Ordinance may be updated to specify spending

Published: Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 07:45 PM.

CHIPLEY — Changes to the ordinance that established the Sunny Hills MSBU may be coming in the near future — changes meant to speed up the pay off of the $1.66 million loan the county owes for road work in the subdivision.

The Municipal Service Benefit Unit, or MSBU, is an ordinance-created tax district, or as County Attorney Jeff Goodman said, “An area on the map.” Within that area, funds are raised to provide services to the residents in that designated region. However, the MSBU is not an entity unto itself.

The MSBU is a mechanism by which a county can fund a particular service or facility that provides a special benefit to property from a levy of special assessments, said Attorney Crystie Voehl of Tallahassee, from Goodman’s office.

“The MSBU is not a legal entity, it cannot own property,” Goodman told the Washington County Commissioners Thursday in a BOCC workshop. “That is something we’ve heard in the past, and I want to set that straight — An MSBU can’t own property or equipment. It is just an area on a map.”

Ultimately, all responsibility for the MSBU area falls back on the county commissioners, Goodman said, and Voehl gave a presentation to the commissioners explaining what MSBUs are and how they work, as well as what alternatives exist to the MSBU.

Currently, the county collects $31.25 a year from residents and property owners within the MSBU, and that money is used to provide services to those living in Sunny Hills, as well as pay down the $1.66 million in debt — a loan that is not scheduled to be paid off until 2028, Goodman said.

Voehl explained that an MSBU may provide services including fire protection, law enforcement, recreation services and facilities, streets and other essential facilities, but only within the MSBU.

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