Published On: Wed, Jun 16th, 2010

Three areas eyed for annexation to Boca would net city $2.5 million, says consultant

By Dale M. King

BOCA RATON – All three areas being eyed for annexation into the city of Boca Raton would together and individually generate more income than expenses, according to a report prepared by consultants PMG Associates.

If all of the nine communities under consideration were to become part of the city, they would bring in an additional $6.7 million in revenue. With expenses listed at $4.2 million, Boca Raton would receive a net increase in revenue of just over $2.5 million.

The mayor and City Council recently decided by consensus to move ahead with a formal study of annexation.  Despite the apparent financial gain, the decision was less than unanimous and, for some council members, not particularly riveting.

 

Boca Grove, near Florida’s Turnpike

Deputy Mayor Susan Haynie said she favored the continued study, but “that doesn’t necessarily mean I will support annexation.”  Councilwoman Constance Scott expressed concerns, as Haynie also did, about the fact that Le Lac, one of the communities eyed for annexation, has wells and septic tanks – something the city has been trying to eliminate for years.

And Councilman Anthony Majhess, citing the “dramatic change” it would cause in the community, said, “I don’t support it [annexation] as a means of raising money.”

Only Mayor Susan Whelchel and Councilman Mike Mullaugh said they backed annexation without listing conditions.

The three areas under annexation scrutiny are Boca Grove, to the west near Florida’s Turnpike; Boca Country Club and the Costco land in north central Boca and six communities in the northwest – St. Andrews, Newport Bay, Fieldbrook, Boniello Acres, Polo Fields and Le Lac.

 

The Le Lac community, off Clint Moore Road

Annexation is the process of bringing county land into Boca city limits. Normally, it yields additional revenue because providing services to largely residential areas is less expensive than the amount of taxes generated. Also, many Boca city services are not as costly as county utilities.

City Manager Leif Ahnell said the proposal to annex land at this time was the result of inquires from St. Andrew’s Country Club and Boca Grove. Also, Mayor Whelchel has cited the need to consider ways of pumping up revenue in light of the tight economy and budget restrictions.

She noted at a meeting earlier this year that the preparation of the 2010-2011 spending sheet will require the council “to make some really tough decisions.  We can’t say no to any idea that could possibly benefit the city.”

Deputy City Manager George S. Brown explained to the council at a recent workshop that the total annexation package contains $1.575 billion in taxable property; 2,018 acres; a population of 4,319; 1,720 employed people; 2,478 homes and 48 commercial properties.

 

Costco on Congress Avenue

The Costco-Boca Country Club segment, said Brown, would generate $1.2 million in revenue with $934,000 in expenses for a net gain of $268,000.  The six northwest communities would create $3.9 million in revenue with $2 million in expenses for a net revenue hike of $1.9 million.

Boca Grove offers revenue of $1.5 million and expenses of $1.2 million, putting the city about $332,000 to the good.

Brown noted the Boca Grove parcel includes the commercial area on Powerline and Glades roads. The northwest package also takes in the commercial properties along Clint Moore Road approaching Military Trail.

To make the effort work, Brown said, upgrades would have to be made to bring the road medians up to city standards. That would require an expense of $400,000 a year, he said.

Perhaps the most historically notable annexation in recent memory took place in 2003, when Boca added a total of 494 acres of formerly county property into the city. That land included the entire Town Center at Boca Raton mall and such surrounding developments as Via Verde, the Coach Houses at Town Place, Santa Barbara and Fairfield Court at Boca Raton.

 

Boca Raton Country Club

Because the move was considered involuntary, it required approval by referendum vote.  The balloting in November of 2003 showed nearly unanimous support of annexation.

The city hired the same consulting firm in 2003 as it did this year to study that issue before it was put to referendum.

A voluntary annexation requires only approval by the city council. Ahnell told council members that this year, no developments that do not want to be part of Boca Raton will be brought it.

Annexation requires the communities to be contiguous to Boca Raton city land.  The consultant’s report said Boca Grove “is isolated from the other communities, but abuts the current city limits at the Via Verde and Estancia developments.”

Boca Country Club and Costco would have to be annexed together, the report says. “To annex the country club and not Costco would create an enclave, which is contrary to state law.”

The report says the six other properties could be annexed as a package, but if some drop out, it could leave others unable to link to the city.

Brown said the timetable calls for a referendum election by November 2010. Two public hearings would be required before that, he said, which may necessitate additional meetings during the summer. If approved, annexation would begin Jan. 1, 2011.

Haynie also suggested sending a letter to all the communities asking if they still want to be part of the city.

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