Special Assessment District FAQ’s

What is a Special Assessment District?

In December 2014, the Detroit City Council passed an ordinance that is intended to strengthen Detroit neighborhoods by empowering neighborhoods to design and implement plans to provide supplemental listed services of security, snow removal, and/or mosquito abatement. If 51% or more of the homeowners in a neighborhood sign a petition to become a Special Assessment District (SAD), all the homeowners share the cost of a City Council-approved plan. This was done to implement the provisions of Section 5i of the Michigan Home Rule City Act.

Why did UDCA pursue Special Assessment Designation?

The City ordinance also created a process by which a neighborhood could become a Special Assessment District. The UDCA asked UD residents (survey) if they wanted to become a SAD. Two thirds of respondents replied: Yes.

What was the process?

The UDCA created a Special Assessment Committee to evaluate the viability and value of a Special Assessment to the community, develop a process for informing the residents, collect signatures and submit the petitions to the City for processing through City Council approval. This committee will transition into an administrative and oversight committee for managing the SAD.  The committee is responsible for ordinance compliance as well.

How many University District property owners signed the petitions?

81% of the University District property owners signed petitions requesting that the University District become a Special Assessment District.

When did the University District become a Special Assessment District?

The Detroit City Council voted unanimously to approve the University District’s designation on June 21, 2022.

How much will it cost and what will it buy?

The assessment amount is $175 per year for each property owner (48 cents/day). This totals $184,492 (assuming 88% collection rate). The current budget allocations are:

  • $141,712 for enhanced security. This would provide a baseline of 12 hours/day of one patrol car and officer. We are currently conducting a resident survey to collect data on resident preferences. We’ll use the results to schedule the hours to meet the priorities of the most residents.
  • $16,500 for snow related services (plowing, salt, etc.). Our 2021 budget was $6,500.
  • $1,400 for mosquito abatement. There are no plans to use funds for this service. If ever needed, there will be no spraying.
  • $1,693 for City of Detroit processing
  • $5,000 – $7,000 for operating expenses.

How and when will the SAD funds be collected?

Although not a tax, the $175 will be collected with our property taxes. It will appear as another line item, designated “SMS” (Security, Mosquito, Snow) on our tax bill.  For 2022 only, the $175 will appear on the 2022 winter tax bill. Normally, it will appear on our summer tax bill.

Does this mean that we will no longer have association dues?

No. The ordinance does not allow replacing association dues. Removing snow plowing from the association budget will allow us to do more with the association dues. Some examples of what we will be able to do with our association dues are: more family friendly activities, replace our aging University District welcome signs, improve our park (Belden Orchard), and support traffic calming efforts.

What about our dues to the University District patrol (subscriber patrol)?

The assessment will provide for security patrols for all UD residents, so current UDP members won’t have to continue paying for security patrols.

How will the UDCA administer the Special Assessment?

The UDCA’s Special Assessment Committee will manage the SAD services and funds. The committee members include residents, board members and officers of the Radio Patrol and Subscriber Patrol (UDP). The bookkeeping and banking will be kept separate from the UDCA. An annual audit will be conducted, with results provided to residents, and the budget and expenses will be posted online. As with other UDCA committees, a SAD committee report is presented at each Board meeting. Notice of all UDCA board meetings are posted at udca.Info. Residents are welcome to attend.

How many Detroit neighborhoods have been designated SADs?

The University District joins three other Detroit neighborhoods (Sherwood Forest, Golf Club & Palmer Woods) as a SAD.

Will this special assessment be effective in perpetuity?

No. The ordinance designates a SAD for a 7-year period. At any time during that period, the neighborhood can petition (with 51% of the signatures of parcel owners) the city to dissolve our assessment if it is dissatisfied with the services being provided. And at the end of seven years, parcel owners can petition (51%) the city to extend the designation for another 7 years.

Where can I get more information on our SAD?

Go to udca.info/committees or udca.info/about-us/contact/.