State Representative Randy Fine Introduces Bill for Property Owners to Finance Sewer Connection

On Friday, Florida State Representative Randy Fine posted to Facebook saying he introduced HB387 to make it easier for homeowners to acquire financing, called PACE loans, to hook their home up to a sewer line, improve their septic tanks, and other projects, not relying on the half-cent tax

What are PACE Loans?

PACE loans are property assessed, clean energy programs that allow a property owner to finance energy efficiency or wind resistance improvements through a non-ad Valorem assessment repaid through an annual tax bill.

A lien on the property is recorded for the value of the improvements and is then assessed on the property owner’s property tax bills down the road.

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The property owner is borrowing money for improvement to the property. These kinds of loans have drawn criticism from other Florida Counties, including Hillsborough

Ygrene Energy Fund, a California-based firm, donated heavily since the beginning of October 2020 to primarily Republican candidates and committees, state campaign finance records show. Its largest donation during that period — $50,000 — went to the political committee of Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Ygrene is one of several private companies in Florida that provide Property Assessed Clean Energy financing. PACE loans are advertised as a way to help customers afford upgrades such as rooftop solar or weather-resistant windows. A Tampa Bay Times investigation published in November 2020 found that the programs often trap customers in debt.

The Florida Attorney General’s Office is currently investigating Ygrene for its PACE lending practices.

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Ygrene surpassed $1 billion in PACE loans in Florida in 2020 and contributing more than $100,000 in October, 2020, including contributions to Brevard politicians:

Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay — $11,000 donated to Fine and his political committee

Debbie Mayfield, R-Melbourne — $10,000 donated to her political committee

HB 387 would also authorize local governments to enter into an agreement with PACE administrator and to incur debt.

If this bill passes, the qualifying improvement would include wastewater treatment improvement, including replacement or improvement of an onsite sewage treatment and disposal system or technology for local government, as well as converting well water to municipal water systems, replacement of lead water service lines, or installation of water filters for property owners

Fine says, “This bill represents the next step in that journey to save our precious lagoon by making it easier and cheaper for property owners who want to do the right thing.”

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