Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the Wheatlands Metropolitan District?
The Wheatlands Metropolitan District (“The District”) is a local governmental entity which was organized in 2002, and which is responsible for providing certain infrastructure and facilities to the Wheatlands community. In general, metropolitan districts are permitted by Colorado state statute to finance community planning and certain critical infrastructure, including initial construction of streets and certain utilities, as well as amenities such as common-use pools, parks, and community structures.
Once the initial infrastructure has been completed, a metropolitan district will typically continue to exist for many years while the infrastructure bonds are being paid and retired. More particularly, between 2005 and 2007, The District financed the installation of the water and sewer lines, streets, sidewalks, streetscapes and medians, irrigation, landscaping, parks, open space, and the construction of the club house and pool. In order to provide this infrastructure, The District, between 2005 and 2008, issued general obligation bonds totaling $33.9M, all of which will mature in 2035. The District also arranged reimbursement agreements with the land developer for the additional capital requirements to complete the infrastructure and seed the operation and administration of The District. After initial infrastructure has been completed, metropolitan districts are also permitted by Colorado state statute to provide certain ongoing services to the community. The Wheatlands Metropolitan District also exists for such purposes beyond the repayment of the infrastructure bonds.
In addition to its responsibility for the repayment of the debt, The District is also responsible for trash removal and recycling, architectural guideline enumeration and review, covenant enumeration and enforcement, the ongoing management of the community, maintenance and administration of the common areas, and the operation and maintenance of facilities which are not operated by another entity. (“Other entities” include utility companies, the City of Aurora, or the County of Arapahoe.) The District receives revenue through its collection of ad valorem (that is, according to value) property taxes assessed on each parcel within The District, and by special fees which may be levied by a metropolitan district. (That portion of your assessment to The District which is imposed by way of the property tax mil rate, appears on your statement from the Arapahoe County Assessor as “WHEATLANDS METRO”.) The considerations of special fees are further explained in the FAQ “Why does The District impose a monthly fee?” Additional information can also be found in the current year’s budget, and in the most recent financial audit.
I didn’t know I was even in a “Metro District.”
By Colorado state law, disclosure statements about special taxing districts would have appeared in documents related to the sale and purchase of your property. While those disclosures specify neither the property tax mill levy rates nor supplementary fees which are applicable at the time of the sale, the disclosure statements do alert the potential property purchaser that a special taxing district does exist and recommends that the buyer perform his or her own due diligence to investigate the special taxing district(s) in which the property is located. This FAQ was created as part of an effort to inform existing and prospective homeowners that the Wheatlands Metropolitan District does exist and what The District does. Technically speaking, there are Wheatlands Metropolitan Districts #1 and #2. District #1 was organized before infrastructure construction began, and District #2 has the ongoing responsibility for payment of the bonds and maintenance of the community. All interaction between “The District” and the property owners is with Wheatlands Metropolitan District #2. At some future date, District #1 will have fulfilled its purpose and will be dissolved. Property owners have no direct financial obligation to District #1.
Who governs The District? Can I attend the board meetings?
The District is governed by a five-member Board of Directors, elected at-large, serving four-year staggered terms. At this time, all five board members of The District are resident homeowners in Wheatlands. Since this constitutes a “majority” of the board, The District is effectively managed and overseen by members of the Wheatlands community who cooperate effectively, and who are actively involved and interested in the condition and management of Wheatlands as well as the costs imposed by The District on the property owners.
According to Colorado state statute, elections are held even numbered years. In March of those years nominations are accepted and, if at the close of the nomination period, there are more candidates than there are open seats, a formal election is conducted among the property owners to determine who will fill the available seats. Also owing to Colorado state statute, any election to select among candidates must be conducted by a professionally recognized and independent provider of such services. The cost of such an election is borne by The District (and therefore by the property owners), and can cost around $20,000.00. If the final slate of candidates matched the number of available seats, The District Board of Directors will be filled by acclamation and save the cost of the election. Meetings of The District Board of Directors are scheduled to occur in the clubhouse (on Wheatlands Parkway, next to Pine Ridge Elementary School). These meetings are open to the public. Interested residents of Wheatlands are encouraged to attend the meetings, where the agenda includes a period for comment by registered attendees.
What about an HOA? How is this different from an HOA?
According to Colorado statute, homeowners associations are separate and legally different from special districts. There was, at one time, a homeowner’s association in Wheatlands. However, The District is the owner of the community property, and was already providing selected services to the community. Since this arrangement was leading to unnecessary confusion among homeowners, as well as some duplication of services and costs, the property owners elected in 2011 to dissolve the HOA and have The District assume responsibility for all matters of maintenance, management, architectural review, and covenant enforcement in Wheatlands.
Why does The District impose a monthly fee? Aren’t the property taxes enough?
In developing an operating plan, The District Board of Directors considers several factors, from community appearance, appeal, marketing, and maintenance of property values, to District cash flow and management effectiveness. The District Board of Directors is charged with annually determining the mil rate for the “WHEATLANDS METRO” component of the property tax assessment. The District Board of Directors is also charged with determining the amount of the special fee that is paid monthly by property owners in Wheatlands. Colorado state law provides some guidance and imposes certain limitations on any metropolitan special district. However, determining the balance point between the revenue that comes from property taxes, and the revenue that comes from the District fee, is a selection that is thoughtfully considered each year by The District Board of Directors. Here is an overview of the considerations: From a broad perspective, The District is responsible for repayment of the bonds and other long-term agreements which financed the infrastructure. Also, The District has always been, and continues to be, responsible for the operation, maintenance, and upkeep of the clubhouse, pool, park, and other common areas. Additionally, whereas the dissolution of the HOA benefitted the community by reducing the number of community managers and therefore reduced overall operating costs, The District also then assumed responsibility for the tasks which were previously taken care of by the HOA. The responsibilities which transferred from the HOA to The District include trash collection, covenant enforcement, and architectural review. These are costs which had been paid by the homeowners as part of their HOA fees. Those costs are now a portion of the monthly fee that property owners pay to The District. During public meetings in the fourth quarter of each calendar year, The District Board works with the accounting manager, legal counsel, the management company, and landscape and other key contractor representatives to formulate and ratify a budget for the following calendar year. Overall, budgeted expenditure categories include:
- Debt obligations: The District has obligations to repay the bonds and other longterm agreements which financed the infrastructure. This amounts to about twothirds of the annual budget, and is funded by property tax revenues.
- Discretionary costs: As the owner of the clubhouse and pool, The District must maintain and administrate those facilities. The District pays the management company for their professional services to administrate the community and carry out the operational plan put forth and agreed to by The District Board of Directors. The District also has costs associated with the ongoing landscaping and upkeep of road medians, entry monumentation, parks, and certain open spaces. In addition to trash removal, The District is responsible for snow removal from the clubhouse parking lot and along certain sidewalks of certain non-residential streets (such as along segments of Wheatlands Parkway, for example). The District pays utility costs for energy usage in the clubhouse and pool area, energy to run the irrigation timers and lighting on non-city streets and parks, and also has significant costs for irrigation of those common areas and parks which are not the responsibility of the City of Aurora. This is funded primarily by the monthly fee.
- General operating costs: The District has always been responsible for the same kinds of general operating costs that are incurred by any metropolitan district. Those include accounting services, an independent annual financial audit, legal counsel, insurance, and mandatory statutory reporting to the state of Colorado. The District also has the responsibility to budget for and accumulate funds for capital improvements and major maintenance to District facilities. This category is funded by a combination of property tax revenues and the monthly fee.
What does all this mean to the property owners? The development and business plan for Wheatlands projected a rate of construction, residential ownership, and assessed valuation based on the economic climate around 2002, when the master plan for Wheatlands was created. The economic downturn of 2008 required those projections to be revised.
Colorado state statute authorizes any metropolitan district, with proper notification of the property owners, to impose fees in addition to the property taxes in order to meet budget obligations for which a district is responsible. In 2010, in order to have sufficient funds to operate and maintain the Wheatlands community, The District Board of Directors saw no practical alternative to exercising its option to initiate a monthly fee on the property owners in order to produce the necessary balanced budget.
With the dissolution of the HOA in 2011 and the consolidation of all administration and management of Wheatlands under the direction of The District Board of Directors, the overall Metro District + HOA fees have been reduced. The overall homeowner fee in Wheatlands assessed by The District is currently $65.00 per month. This amount includes the services previously provided by the HOA.
Summarizing, The District receives money from property taxes and from the special fee. If, in future years, the property tax revenue increases and overall operating costs for The District stay about the same or decrease, it is a reasonable expectation that The District Board of Directors will be able to reduce the monthly fee. Fortunately, a majority of The District Board of Directors are also residents of Wheatlands who pay the same property tax mil rate and monthly fees as do the rest of the homeowners, so they are also interested in keeping the taxes and fees low. If you want to find out more about the details, you can attend District board meetings, and read the current year’s budget and the most recent financial audit.
Is the monthly fee imposed only on the homeowners?
No. Homebuilders pay a one-time facilities fee on each property within Wheatlands. The facilities fee is applied to The District’s infrastructure debt obligations. In addition to that, the builders are also assessed a monthly fee, just as are the homeowners. It is true that the amount of the fee paid by the builders is somewhat less than that paid by the homeowners. However, that reduced amount reflects the reality that the builders are neither using the community amenities such as the clubhouse, pool, or park, nor is The District paying for the builders’ trash removal.
Is the monthly fee assessed by The District mandatory? What if I don’t pay the fee?
To be polite but blunt, ignoring your obligation to pay The District fee is not a good idea. It will place an additional financial burden on your neighbors. Worse yet, it will ultimately subject you to collections action by The District. Gratefully, The District’s Board includes a majority of representatives from within the Wheatlands community – neighbors who are paying the same fee as are you. Never the less, The District is a governmental entity, and has the ability and obligation to place a lien on properties with delinquent fees. Please help us by keeping your account current. If you have accumulated fees, consider contacting the management company to arrange a payment plan.
I just moved into the neighborhood, what do I need to do?
Welcome to the neighborhood! You will want to familiarize yourself with the Residential Improvement guidelines (covenants) available here. These will provide you with an understanding of the rules that govern our community and landscaping requirements. In addition, you will want to set up your monthly payments to the Wheatlands Metropolitan District by visiting the payment section of our website here.
Who provides water and wastewater services to the community?
While the District doesn’t provide water or wastewater services, Wheatlands residents are fortunate to be connected to the City of Aurora’s water, where homeowners have the added advantage of sharing costs with a larger, established population that already has renewable water and provides wastewater services.
My street light is out who should I contact?
Xcel Energy at www.xcelenergy.com
Who provides trash and recycling services?
Who provides the fire, police protection, and road maintenance for Wheatlands?
The City of Aurora. Below is the link to contact the City of Aurora: