* MSBU stands for Municipal Service Benefit Unit. Florida Statute 197.3632 gives authority to County Commissions to establish msbu projects which allows the placement of a non-ad valorem assessment on benefited properties to pay for services the county is unable to fund otherwise; ie: road paving, road maintenance, water/sewer, parks, fire service, etc.
* A Non Ad Valorem Assessment means the assessment is not subject to the homestead exemption law. Under Florida’s homestead exemption law enacted by a vote of the state’s citizens, property owners whose primary home and property are valued at less than $25,000, do not pay any ad valorem taxes; primary home sites valued over $25,000 pay ad valorem taxes on the value amount over $25,000. Under an msbu everyone pays a portion of the cost of providing the service regardless of homestead exemption.
* Citizens must file a petition signed by a majority of property owners stating they are interested in looking at the feasibility of implementing a paving or maintenance msbu for whatever roads, no later than October 15 annually.
* Deadline for determining feasibility and getting projects approved for the Public Hearing process for msbu’s is 12:00 P.M., the Wednesday prior to the 2nd Board Meeting in February (4th Tuesday of the month) of each year.
* Once cost estimates/feasibility are established and property owners decide to go to the public hearing stage, the public hearings are scheduled to be held usually between June and July of each year, sometimes if necessary in August. Letters are sent out usually thirty days in advance, but by law at least twenty days in advance of the public hearing date.
* If a project is approved, the assessment will appear on the tax bill beginning in November of the year that the project was approved. For paving projects, the work usually begins twelve to eighteen months later (late summer, early fall of the next year), for maintenance projects the work usually begins sometime between the following February and May.
* Assessments are done on a per lot basis for paving projects, giving account to lots containing more than one dwelling unit (ie, one lot containing two homes would receive two assessments); and per parcel basis for maintenance projects, also giving account to parcels containing more than one dwelling unit; additionally parcel combinations are allowed in maintenance projects and usually results in a reduction of the number of assessments said owner receives thus affecting the total amount of the budget for the maintenance project. Such combinations are not allowed in paving msbu’s. For metes and bounds property, the number of assessments a parcel receives is determined by the County’s Land Use Regulations and/or Subdivision Development Regulations.
* All properties that receive a benefit from the improvements, whether it is direct or indirect, will receive the assessment. The purpose of a paving or maintenance msbu is to improve the general access to all properties within the benefit unit boundaries.
* Any and all funds collected for a project go into a fund for that particular project; they cannot be used to fund any other service or project.
* For approved paving projects, the Board has approved ten or fifteen year annual pay plans which are billed via the tax bill or property owners have the option of payment in full of the principal amount by August 1st to avoid all interest and other fees. Additionally, during the life of the assessment, remaining balances can be paid off between November 1st and August 1st of any year as long as the taxes have been paid up to date including the current year. Said payoffs will include interest and fees accumulated up to the time of any payoff.
* Maintenance projects are an annual assessment, and again, all monies collected for a project are kept in that project’s budget; they cannot be transferred and utilized elsewhere. Whatever the amount of funds collected from the tax bills, minus the Tax Collector and administration fees, is the budget amount a project has at its disposal to perform maintenance work, i.e.: grading, mowing, ditch cleaning, culvert replacement (excluding driveway culverts), tree removal etc. on an annual basis. A citizen’s advisory board is appointed for maintenance msbu’s and they oversee the work done by the contractor and must request any work necessary other than normal grading, ie. tree removal, fill material, culverts, etc. Therefore, maintenance msbu’s have some flexibility as to the work done from month to month.
* The costs relayed to you are estimates only. The costs cannot exceed the amount put in the letters without going through the whole public hearing process again. However, the assessment can be reduced. If a bid comes in way over the estimated amount the County has the option of dropping the project or contributing the necessary funds, if available. In paving projects, for the first year the assessment amount will be the amount stated in the letter, however, if a paving project turns out to be over estimated, and the bid comes in lower than the estimated amount, the County will either prorate the reduction for the remaining years or reduce the number of payments. If the bid comes in close to the estimated amount, your assessment will remain the same as in the letter for the entire payback period. If the bid comes in over the estimated amount and the County contributes the difference, your assessment will remain the same as stated in the letter for the entire payback period.
* There are provisions for errors and omissions made in our assessment of properties. If you are billed and believe an error exists, between November 1st and December 31st of each year, you can file a request to correct your bill with Shannon Burge 386-326-2756). Additionally, if staff becomes aware of an error they can also file a request to correct a bill. These instances may result in a change of the number of assessments for any such parcel (+/-) assessed incorrectly or omitted from an assessment in error. All requests will go before the MSBU Adjustment Committee and the Board of County Commissioners for approval.
* The County also established a hardship-deferment option. For those property owners who face a hardship in paying the non-ad valorem assessment, there is a hardship deferment application they can obtain from Shannon Burge (386-329-2756). Applications must be filed between November 1st and December 31st each year the assessment is in place. Applications will go before the MSBU Adjustment Committee and Board of County Commissioners for approval.
* This is a non-ad valorem assessment that, if approved, will appear on your tax bill. By law, the letters that we send out state: If imposed, failure to pay will result in loss of title. Unless prior arrangements have been made with the Tax Collector’s Office to make quarterly payments, they will not accept what they would consider a partial payment. Therefore, unless the whole tax bill, which includes the assessment, is paid, it will go through the same process as if you did not pay your property taxes.
Bostwick North MSBU Advisory Committee
Grove Lake Estates MSBU Committee
Interlachen Lake Estates MSBU Committee
MSBU Adjustment Committee
Ocklawaha Hills MSBU Advisory Committee
Pinecrest Circle MSBU Advisory Committee
Shaggy Lane MSBU Advisory Committee
St. Johns Harbor MSBU Committee
West Harbor Farms MSBU
West Putnam MSBU Advisory Board