Jacksonville, FL (January 24, 2019) – Councilman Becton is wrapping up his first term on City Council with an initiative he has been working on for nearly 18 years for the Baymeadows area – The Baymeadows Community Improvement District (BCID).
The BCID, also referred as a Dependent Special Taxing District (DSTD), is a plan to address local issues of failing infrastructure where improvements are desperately needed on private roads, storm water and drainage systems, sidewalks, signage, and lighting on streets to name a few.
As a commercial property owner in the area, Councilman Becton has seen over the years, a decline in the area’s quality of life for residents as a result of independent and dysfunctional associations. With all the new exciting development plans currently in the pipeline, which is sure to be transformative, there is a desire from area residents and businesses to address these problems with innovative solutions.
“The Baymeadows area was once a vibrant golf course community where owner associations worked,” Councilman Becton explained. “Today, the golf course is gone and many of those associations do not have the resources, nor the economies of scale, to successfully keep up with maintenance demands much-fewer capital improvements.”
Councilman Becton has begun conducting one-on-one meetings going around the area communicating with property owners and home owner associations. These discussions involve explaining the DSTD concept and benefits, opening a dialogue about how this initiative would work and how it would benefit each community and organization. The responses so far have been positive as all the stakeholders within the area know that something must change, and something must be done soon.
The purpose of the meetings has been to highlight the problems that are occurring and built up in and around the Baymeadows community and conceptualize the plan that would solve these issues. Certainly, people want to know the costs, but just as significant and self-evident is their interest in the timeline. They want to know how soon the plan can be implemented and how fast will they see the benefits. This is a need most residents and business owners understand.
One of Councilman Becton’s first meetings of the year was held back in January with the Cypress Point Executive Center Property Owners Association, and a few days afterwards, with the business owners who once made up the business owners association on Cypress Green Drive, which is now defunct. Both business entities and owners were excited about the prospects of having vital infrastructure improved and maintained, but even more importantly, for the possibility to address the decline in this area of Baymeadows. Like most of the areas, their roadways are in poor condition, and there seems to be no solution in site for maintaining them, nor the option to upgrade the streets with sidewalks and lighting. This was exciting news for the groups to hear.
Councilman Becton is currently in the process of meeting with more Owner Associations, businesses and residents within the BCID boundaries. These meetings continue to educate everyone on the needs and benefits of the BCID plan and elucidate the importance of having the community’s support as legislation looks to get filed in the very near future.
“In explaining the Special Taxing District concept, this is not something most folks are familiar with or have experience with given its uniqueness,” Councilman Becton acknowledges. “But it is a tool that its intended use is perfect for this existing community.”
Councilman Becton often explains the DSTD concept by comparing its structure with a Community Development District “CDD” and Home Owner Association “HOA”. All these entities have elected governmental boards with a responsibility to create a budget, plan capital improvements and manage the maintenance and needs throughout their communities. In addition, CDD & DSTD can borrow money and acquire property. DSTD are over seen by the city’s local government body, Jacksonville City Council. There are CDD communities throughout Jacksonville and District 11, such as Bartram Springs and Bartram Park to reference to for governance and effectiveness.
CDD’s were created under Florida Statue Chapter 190 and are typically put in place before a community is built as it would require approval of 100% of all residents to be created. Since the Baymeadows community is already developed and well established, a Dependent Special Taxing District under Florida Statue 189 is permissible to be created only by the requirement of the local legislative body to approve, not area residents.
“The Dependent Baymeadows Community Improvement District is not a foreign entity to our city,” Councilman Becton said. “Dependent Districts can be found in numerous instances where necessary capital maintenance and improvements affect multiple property owners who have a vested interest in some common asset. The ability to create a DSTD after the fact, with just council approval, allows communities to solve problems and accomplish projects, which might be impossible otherwise”.
Examples of some Dependent Special Taxing District’s include: Harbour Waterway Dependent Special District, Tarpon Cover Dependent Special District and Millers Creek Dependent Special District in Duval County.
Councilman Becton has created a BCID Handbook which helps provide stakeholders with a brief history and understanding for the improvements that are taking place in and around the area. It includes the benefits, the possible members criteria, and the infrastructure, which is addressed in detailed along with a revenue assessment structure that breaks down the estimated costs for stakeholders.
“When residents and stakeholders see the estimated costs that will be needed to fund the BCID, they often express, ‘This is too good to be true,’” Councilman Becton exclaimed. “When you look at the number of stakeholders, and by everyone contributing, a lot can be done with a little bit of help from everyone.”
Councilman Becton anticipates that legislation will be filed by summer, which will begin the process of creating the DSTD. Prior to its official filing, Councilman Becton, along with the Baymeadows Community Council, plans on holding a final community-wide town hall meeting to review the details of the plan and answer any questions for all stakeholders.
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