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Pace Funding Agency’s Dispute with County Tax Collectors Intensifies

The pinnacle of the Florida PACE Funding Agency has vowed to take its fight with “rogue” tax collectors all of the method to the state’s Supreme Court. Through the legal motion, Mike Moran, the agency’s executive director, said he hopes to force county tax collectors to “adhere to the law.”

The fight stems from a refusal by a handful of tax collectors to place PACE assessments on property tax bills of their jurisdictions, which they see as unauthorized. The assessments are critical to the success of the Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, program. Through this system, property owners can finance energy efficiency and storm-hardening upgrades to their homes, then repay their improvement costs over time with interest through the annual assessments.

The Florida PACE Funding Agency is certainly one of 4 special districts that gives the financing for property owners within the state.

The agency says the ruling validates this system, stating that interlocal agreements are not any longer required based on the judicial validation. Nonetheless, tax collectors in Volusia, Duval, Alachua, Pasco, Palm Beach, Hillsborough, Collier, and Lee counties have refused to place the assessments on tax bills, causing a funding crisis that jeopardizes the financing program authorized by the state Legislature.

The Collier County Tax Collector argues that they can not and won’t use this system to acquire payments from homeowners for residential improvements, as their ordinance only authorizes this system for industrial projects. The Lee County Tax Collector refuses to enter into a group agreement without an intra-local agreement in place.

The Florida PACE Funding Agency has been accused of abusing the legal system and invalidating the constitutional and statutory rights of counties and their tax collectors. Nonetheless, Moran argues that tax collectors are acting as political bureaucrats and disregarding the law, which creates a looming housing crisis.

Several counties have filed individual lawsuits against the PACE Funding Agency, while bondholders and personal investors are pulling back on their funding attributable to the controversy with tax collectors. Rates of interest for PACE range from about 6% to 13%, and repayment is often spread over 15 to twenty years. Moran argues that this system is crucial for financing improvements similar to recent roofs and air conditioners. He suggests a less complicated interlocal agreement that may very well be utilized by all counties and cities.

Tax collectors, similar to Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano, argue that they’ve been collecting assessments so long as the agency abides by their rules outlined within the interlocal agreement. Fasano emphasizes the necessity for oversight in this system and suggests that state lawmakers may address these concerns in the following regular legislative session. He questions the authority of a government a whole lot of miles away to place something on a tax notice in one other county.

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