Fall 2023 Update: Special Assessment District FAQ’s

How did UDCA become a SAD?

After years of citizen petition drives, community meetings, public hearings before City Council and other City requirements, the University District was designated a Special Assessment District (SAD) by the Detroit City Council on June 21, 2022. We have joined neighboring Palmer Woods, Golf Club and Sherwood Forest as the only communities with this designation in the city of Detroit, to date. Eighty-one percent of University District property owners signed the petition requesting this designation.

What does the Special Assessment cost to each parcel and what does it cover?

Since winter tax bill of 2022, each parcel within the University District, through real estate property taxes, has been assessed $175. The City distributed the funds to UDCA beginning in February of 2023.

Via contracted vendors, the special assessments cover:

  • Security (currently 12 hours per day from 6pm – 6am)
  • Snow Removal
  • Mosquito Abatement.

All University District property owners share the associated costs (and benefits) of the above services. The amount of the assessment is $175/year and first appeared  as line-item SMS on our 2022 winter tax bill. Beginning in 2023 it will appear only on the summer tax bills. Other neighboring SAD communities (Palmer Woods, Golf Club and Sherwood Forest) are paying up to $450/year.

Why are we only receiving 12 hours/day of security instead of the 24 hours proposed?

Our efforts to become a Special Assessment District began in 2016. At that time, $175/per University District parcel, (for a then estimated total of approximately $163,000 per year), would have covered the cost of 24/7 patrol officers and a vehicle, snow pushes, mosquito abatement, City of Detroit processing fees and UDCA administrative costs. Our petition drive was delayed by Covid restrictions and had to be repeated due to the City Assessor’s errors. In the six years it took to FINALLY receive our SAD designation, the costs of security (particularly labor) increased by over 66%. For that reason, and to avoid assessing a higher $ amount per parcel, $175 annually will now fund 12 hour/day patrols and all of the other services previously noted.

With the required Special Assessment, are residents still being asked to become members of UDCA?

As noted above, by state law, the Special Assessment funds can ONLY be used to cover three (3) specific items, Security, Snow Removal and Mosquito Abatement. 

Membership in the University District Community Association (UDCA) is separate and creates an annual budget that supports the neighborhood and provides funds for activities and events such as the Biannual Home Tour, Annual Harvest Fest and Easter Egg Hunt, block parties subsidy, community meetings and mailings, newsletters, social media presence, beautification efforts that bring color to flowerpots on 6 and 7 miles and MANY other efforts that make our community so very special.

How are the Special Assessment funds managed?

Any funds collected under the special assessment are managed in accordance with state law. The City deducts a management fee (1% of collected taxes) and forwards the remaining funds to the University District Community Association (approximately $160,000 for the 2 assessments paid to date). The Association is allowed up to 3% in operating expenses. The UDCA can only use these funds for the three approved above listed services, in accordance with the ordinance. (If ever warranted, mosquito abatement would be limited to tablets dropped in catch basins and mowing overgrown vacant lots. No spraying or insecticide use.)

UDCA created a Special Assessment District Committee when this process began. This committee has transitioned from tasks related to securing our SAD designation to oversight and management of the SAD services. The committee is responsible for:

  • Ordinance compliance
  • Contractor procurement, oversight, payment, and performance evaluation
  • Regular reporting to:
    • University District residents (at the two annual meetings and on the UDCA website)
    • UDCA Board (at its monthly meeting)
    • City officials (as required)
  • Any SAD related responsibilities of the UDCA.

How were the vendors selected?

Four security firms operating in our area for years were asked to submit proposals to meet our defined scope of services. Two of the firms submitted proposals.  Although not the principal criteria, the firm with the lowest cost was ultimately selected and contracted to provide the UD’s security patrol.

How long will the University District be designated as a Special Assessment District and what happens if the cost of services increase?

The length of a SAD designation is seven years. During this period, if the cost of the approved services rises above the annual assessment collected, the assessment can be increased by up to 15%, in 3% increments. Any increase must be approved by the Assessor’s office.

Who can University District Residents contact with questions?

For more information on SAD or any other UDCA topics:

  • Go to udca.info/committees or udca.info/about-us/contact.
  • Join us at our community, membership, or Board of Directors meetings

To contact the SAD Committee, leave a voicemail message at: (313) 378-0982.