MCCDD Unofficial Historical Summary

The following is one observer’s account of the history of the MCCDD from the county’s approval of the Development of Regional Impact (DRI) application by Hines in January, 1998, to today.

Since the start of Palencia, the Marshall Creek Community Development District (CDD) has been responsible for the issuance (2000, 2002, 2015, and 2016) and repayment of bonds to pay for the infrastructure and for maintaining the roads, parks, recreational facilities, and other fixed assets.  As is typical of developments, the developer, Marshall Creek, Ltd. (aka Hines) appointed all the 5 board members initially.  Over time with a formula based on registered voters, the control of the board transitioned to residents.  The first two resident board members were elected in 2006, and two more in 2008.  Walter O’Shea was the Chairman of the board until 2010. He was forced to step down when all seats had to be held by residents.  Hoke Smith became Chairman of the Board and served until his tragic death in 2012 in a helicopter crash. 

Dick Hurley, who was first elected to the board in 2008, then became Chairman.   Dick has announced that he is not running for re-election in November and we will have a new chairperson at that time.

The cost to residents of repaying the bonds is fixed and does not increase or decrease but the costs of operating and maintenance (O & M) does vary year to year based on amenities offered to residents, repair costs, the number of defaults on fee payments, and inflation.  When the infrastructure was new there were very few repairs needed and since there were relatively few actual residents compared to land owners, the amenities were hardly used, costs were minimal.  MCCDD O&M fees in 2006, for example, were only $900.  As the community aged, more areas needed landscaping, more residents moved in expecting services (especially fitness), streets and pools needed to be repaired, fitness equipment needed replacement, etc., and costs predictably increased.  Fees increased significantly in 2007 and 2008 to catch up with the real costs.  Since then, with oversight by the resident board, O&M fees, inside the gates, were $1,490 per lot in 2008 and are $2,022 in 2016, less than an average of 4% increase per year.  (The MCCDD will probably start the budgeting process for the 2017 Fiscal Year in April.)

It has not been easy to keep fees as low as they are.  The housing slump in 2008-2010 resulted in a dramatic increase in defaults.  Specifically, Crosswinds, Trident, Village Square, and Augustine Island non-payment of fees cost the MCCDD millions in potential lost revenue.  Additionally, ICI, which was the initial developer of Palencia North (aka Sweetwater or Lennar) did not pay their fair share of amenity costs for several years.  The board foreclosed on the property between Starbucks and the school and is now receiving revenue from the home sites Pulte is developing.  The MCCDD demolished the three shells of buildings in Avila and constructed a park after determining it was not economical to finish them based on the current market for condos.  The MCCDD also foreclosed on the Augustine Island undeveloped land but there is no use now that justifies anyone paying the back taxes.  As seen recently, vandalism is also a continuing issue.  In 2011 there was a fire accidently set on the boardwalk that cost $137,000 to repair.  The MCCDD board was able to recover about 80% of the costs, primarily from the homeowners insurance of the two teenagers who were responsible.  There have been much smaller sporadic incidents of vandalism since then, e.g., trashing the boardwalk and breaking mailboxes, sadly most of it by residents.

In recent years the MCCDD has added new services.  In 2010 the deed to the boardwalk transferred to the MCCDD.  (It was built by the developer at a cost of $1.2 million.)  In 2011 the new fitness center opened, 24/7 manning of the North Loop guard house started, the Las Calinas gate was built, and the MCCDD started working with Neighborhood Publications to have a community-wide website.  In 2016 the new tennis center, built at the developer’s expense, will turned over to the MCCDD and hopefully the space where the trailer now sits can be used for a better purpose.

The board did a survey of resident satisfaction with the MCCDD’s amenities (2011) and as a result made changes in management of the fitness programs.  In 2012 the MCCDD commissioned a thorough analysis of our infrastructure to determine what reserve funds it will need in the future to maintain our facilities.   The MCCDD first saw major street repair costs in 2012 with sink holes.  With the capital reserve fund the MCCDD established and the help of the POA, the re-pavement of the traffic circle in 2014 was possible without big fee increases.  Dick Hurley’s leadership was instrumental in all of these changes.

In addition, during Dick’s tenure as chairman, the MCCDD conducted a third-party bidding process for commercial landscapers and determined it was more cost effective doing it in-house (2011), started using off-duty sheriff’s deputies which has cut vandalism costs and traffic issues (2012), received county approval to use golf carts on our streets (2013), and undoubtedly most importantly, re-financed the 2000 series bonds (2015).  The MCCDD was able to get a rate of 4.8% instead of 7.7% which provided it with $1.5 million in funds for future needs without increasing the amount or term that anyone previously paid.   If interest rates remain low, the MCCDD expects to re-finance the 2002 series bonds in 2018.

The MCCDD has some challenges in the next few months and years including completing construction of a maintenance building, attaining stricter compliance with traffic and golf cart laws, tighter security at the Las Calinas gate, improving the relationship with the Sweetwater MCCCD, and addressing capacity issues at the pools, tennis and fitness center.

Thanks in large part to the leadership of all three of the past Chairmen and the contributions of all the people who have served on the board (and, of course, the employees who actually do the work), Palencia has a financially sound, well-managed community organization that is providing a high quality of services to residents.  In the next several months the bridge over Marshall Creek connecting the North Loop to the South Loop should be complete and the developer will have completed its’ role in Palencia.  The future of our community will depend entirely on the residents.  There will be two board seats up for election in November (seats 4 and 5) and hopefully there will be residents willing to run and help keep Palencia a great place to live.

The schedule for remaining FY 2016 meetings is;

March 16, 2016
April 20, 2016
May 18, 2016
June 8, 2016
July 20, 2016
August 17, 2016
September 21, 2016

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