Q: What is an MSTU or MSBU?
A: Many of Lee County's expenses are paid for by "Taxing Authorities." An MSTU or MSBU is a Taxing Authority, which has its own budget for both revenues and expenses. This budget is approved at a public hearing.

Q: Where can an MSTBU exist?
A: An MSTBU can only be created in the unincorporated areas of Lee County. Municipalities must provide any services within the incorporated boundaries of Lee County. They are the cities of Fort Myers, Fort Myers Beach, Cape Coral, Sanibel, Bonita Springs and Estero.

Q: Are there any restrictions in the unincorporated areas of Lee County?
A: Yes. Gated communities are excluded from forming a Taxing Authority through the MSTBU department.

Q: How is an MSTBU created?
A: An MSTBU is a joint effort between the local community and the County. The community must:

  • Define the services to be provided and the area to be included in the unit.
  • 50% + 1 (majority) of the property owners must sign an informal petition. This petition does not commit the property owners. It is simply to gather information on how much the unit will cost.
  • The County then prepares a budget and a formal petition. The formal petition states the cost to the property owners. This petition is a commitment by the property owner to pay the assessment(s). After receiving 50% + 1 (majority) of the property owners must sign and have notarized the petition. This petition is a commitment by the property owner to pay the assessment(s).
  • After receiving the 50% + 1 or more of the notarized signatures on the  formal petition, it is brought before the Lee County Commissioners for approval.

Q: Who controls the budget?
A: Ultimately, the County has responsibility for the budget. However a volunteer committee of 5 people or business owners may be formed to monitor and advise the County.

Q: Is there a limit as to what can be charged?
A: Yes. The Florida statute that allows MSTBUs has millage cap of 10. However, each unit may choose to impose a lower cap.

Q: What happens if the MSTBU, overspends its budget?
A: This will not happen. The system is set up so that once the budget has been spent, no more purchase orders can be written. Because of this, a reserve fund must be a part of the budget. This reserve can be used for emergencies, such as hurricane or tornado damage.

Q: What happens if all of the taxes collected are not spent?
A: Any taxes that are not spent will be carried over to next year's budget. All funds collected by an MSTBU stays in that MSTBU.

Q: Can the budget be modified during the year?
A: The amount of taxes collected cannot be changed once it has been approved by the Board of County Commissioners at a public hearing. However, funds can be moved from one line item to another.

Q: Does everyone pay the same amount?
A: There are several methods of collecting assessments. In some instances, everyone will pay an equal portion. In other instances, a property owner will pay proportionally to the benefit he or she is receiving.

Q: Is there an end to an MSTBU?
A: MSTBUs that are set up as a one-time-only project will have an end. MSTBUs that are set up as an Operation and Maintenance (0 & M) unit will continue indefinitely. An 0 & M can be dissolved by going through the petitioning process.

Q: Where can I get information on the procedures to set up an MSTBU?

A: Visit our Create a Unit web page or call 533-2308.