MSBU Program Contacts
2300 Virginia Avenue
Ft. Pierce, Florida 34982
What is a ''MSBU''?
It stands for ''Municipal Service Benefit Unit.'' An MSBU is ''a legal financing mechanism or method wherein the County establishes a special district to allow a group of citizens to fund a desired improvement, such as utilities or roads, by majority consensus (51%) of the approval of the property owners contained in the assessment area.'' The assessment boundary is determined by those properties that will derive a benefit from the improvements. This boundary by definition is called the ''benefit unit.''
This process allows the property owner to finance the amount of the assessment over a period of time, generally ten (10) to fifteen (15) years depending on the project cost and type of improvements. The assessment will appear annually on the property tax bill as a non-ad valorem tax.
The steps in bringing a project to fruition is very time consuming. Petition validation, engineering design, permitting, land acquisition, construction, bond validation, financing and the MSBU ''legal process'' will usually take about two years. Please review the ''Steps for Creating a MSBU'' chart which provides an overview of the procedures necessary to establish a MSBU.
When the conception of the MSBU Program began approximately ten years ago, the County only had three or four MSBU projects. Due to the huge success of the Program, our MSBU division is now processing over twenty five projects at one time!
Determining Project Costs
This is an assessment district project, wherein, you as the property owner will be assessed and asked to pay for a fair share of the project costs, which include:
Construction Costs, Engineering and Design Costs, Surveying Costs and Administrative and Financing Fees associated with the MSBU.
The project cost we give out at the initial informal meeting is only a rough cost estimate. Until the design is complete and construction bids are obtained, we must be conservative with our estimates. Usually, the bid and final project costs are lower than previously estimated.
Method of Assessment
The cost of the improvements would be distributed among each property owner, based on the method of assessment derived for the project.
The most common method of assessment for paving and drainage improvements is based upon a ''front footage'' method. For example, if your lot is 100' wide, you would be assessed for 100' of improvements. However, because each project is unique, methods may vary with each individual project.
Utility improvements are usually based on an Equivalent Residential Connection (ERC) method, whereas each property is assessed the total number of connections to the system. For example, each single family residence is assessed one (1) ERC.
Method of Financing
YOU HAVE THE OPTION TO.....
Finance through the County
Pre-pay the assessment, and avoid the finance and interest charges or;
Obtain your own financing.
If you elect to finance through the County
1) project would be financed over a 10 or 15 year period to make the payments more affordable.
2) interest rate is assumed at 7 1/2% but we will obtain the best rate when financing is setup.
3) payments are made annually - added to your property tax bill, and shown as a special assessment.
4) balance of assessment may be payed off at any time to avoid paying full interest.
5) lien is NOT recorded. This assessment is treated in the same manner as your tax bill. If you do not pay your property taxes, the property appraiser files a tax lien and a tax certificate is sold to pay the taxes on your property.
6) assessment runs with the property, not the property owner, therefore the assessment would NOT have to be paid off if you sell your property.
What is an MSTU?
Municipal Service Taxing Unit (''MSTU'') The improvements benefit a larger area (i.e. the unincorporated area of St. Lucie County). The method of assessment is based on the property appraiser's assessed property value and assessed using a millage rate. The assessment is levied as an ''ad valorem'' special assessment and collected on the annual property tax bill for a specific period of time.