The East County Water Control District (ECWCD) on Aug. 19 passed a budget for the fiscal year 2013-2014 that maintains its non ad valorem assessments rates for the fifth consecutive year. The vote passed 3-2, with Commissioners Stout and Thompson dissenting.
A non ad valorem assessment rate is based on the size of one's property, while an ad valorem assessment rate is based on the value of one's property.
Property owners within ECWCD's boundaries pay $26.28 per quarter acre, $52.58 per half acre, or $105.15 per acre a year in non ad- valorem assessments to ECWCD. The average property owner in Lehigh Acres owns a quarter or a half acre lot.
Today, ECWCD encompasses 62,566 acres of land. Approximately 60,000 of these acres lay in Lee County with the remaining acres in Hendry County; this includes only 47,762 taxable acres.
"ECWCD is dedicated to the maintenance and management of our waterways and ensuring the integrity of these resources in the future," said David Deetscreek, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners.
The District's 311 miles of canals play a crucial role in draining land after heavy rainfalls as well as in water conservation-without these canals Lehigh Acres would be uninhabitable.
"The budget passed by the Board of Commissioners has enough funds to sustain all necessary projects and services for this fiscal year," said Deetscreek
"However, as prices go up and infrastructure continues to age, each year becomes more and more of a challenge to keep rates from increasing. As chairman of the (board), I am committed to creating a budget and finance committee, and encourage our residents to become involved and dissect the numbers, so in the future we can present any increases or decreases to specific, targeted areas. This will help provide rate payers with a clear understanding of where their money is going, and what services their assessments provide. I believe we can take the politics out of such an important decision by using the expertise and talents of our residents, approaching the budget from a completely objective manner," said Deetscreek.
According to Deetscreek, ECWCD's Board of Commissioners and District staff have been working hard to form community partnerships and pursue grants to help implement needed projects.
ECWCD's major programs and services include: canal cleaning and mowing; rights-of-way maintenance and management; National Pollution Elimination System; drainage and flood control; aquatic plant control; as well as limited parks powers at Barbara Farrell Park, Charlie Matheny Park and Jim Fleming Ecological Park.
For more information about ECWCD, visit: www.ecwcd.com or call (239) 368-0044.
Source: Carla Ulakovic, community project specialist with the East County Water Control District