Bond Interest Refund Procedures
In early August 2012, District staff determined that there was an error in the procedures used in the calculation of bond payoff amounts when a resident elects to pay off their bonds used to fund each District’s infrastructure.
This error in interpretation of the Bond Indentures of Trust and Authorizing Resolutions dates back to the inception of each District. In the case of District No. 1, this dates to 1992. District No. 9, the newest District to issue infrastructure funding revenue bonds, dates only to 2011. In reviewing our files, it appears that approximately 880 of the over 44,775 residential properties in The Villages may have made an overpayment for which one of the numbered Districts is preparing to make a refund.
Those properties located in Lake County are not part of this process because they never had an infrastructure bond and related assessment issued that affected them. Those properties within Marion and Sumter County where the previous or current owner has not yet paid off their bond in full are also not affected by this error correction as the error occurred only when the bond assessment was paid in full.
What is this error you ask? When bond assessments are levied on each residential parcel, each owner has two choices on how they pay off the bond assessment. They can pay in annual installments to the County Tax Collector based on billings that show on their November 1st tax bill each year for the 20 to 30 year duration of the bond assessment for their property. This annual assessment includes three components: principal, interest and administrative fee. The information on these annual assessments are prepared and submitted each year by the Districts to the Property Appraiser and then to the Tax Collector for inclusion in the annual tax bill.
Where does the error come in? The second choice offered to each property owner is to pay off the assessment in full at any time. If they pay it off after the District’s annual cutoff date in late July each year, the following year’s assessment has already been sent to the County Tax Collector. There would then be one final payment to the Tax Collector after the bond payoff.
This final annual installment has three components, principal and administrative fees, which are correct, and an interest component, which in some cases may be in error.
Why did the error occur? When the final payment in full was made, a refund of excess interest included in the last annual installment paid to the Tax Collector was not calculated as part of the payoff amount. This error has since been corrected and does not affect any payoff calculations made beginning in mid-August 2012 and thereafter. Most of the property owners who paid their assessments in full prior to that time were also charged the correct amount.
However, for those persons who made their payoffs between the July cutoff each year and March 16th of the following year, they were charged a full year’s worth of interest on their final annual installment when only half or none of the interest was due.
For those property owners who paid off their bonds between the annual July assessment roll cutoff date through September 16th, they were entitled to a full refund of the final annual interest installment. For those property owners who paid off their bonds from September 17th through the following March 16th, they were entitled to a 50% refund of the final annual installment of interest. For those that paid off from March 17th through the following July cutoff date, they were entitled to no interest refund.
This breakdown is based on the language included in each bond authorization resolution that was designed to protect the Districts from having bonds outstanding for which they were still paying interest on, while the property assessed was no longer paying for the interest. The error resulted from the Districts continuing to collect interest for the full tax year even after the property met its obligation contained in the bond authorization resolution.
How is it going to be fixed? The Districts have set up a refund application procedure, with a simple one page form to be completed. The property owner fills out the top half of the form and submits it to the Bond Team for review and calculation of any refund due.
How do I get an application? Please click below to print out an application. Alternatively, you can contact the District Finance Bond Team at (352) 751-3900. Our staff will be happy to mail, fax or e-mail you a copy of the form. It is also available at the Customer Service Center located at 984 Old Mill Run. If an applicant is not eligible for a refund, a letter will be provided to the applicant, along with the form, showing the calculation. If an applicant is entitled to a refund, a letter, the completed calculation form and a check will all be enclosed.
If you have any further questions or would like to speak to someone regarding your eligibility, please do not hesitate to contact us.