Lauren Ritchie: The Villages in Lake ...

Lauren Ritchie: The Villages in Lake Couny tangles with IRS ove...

There are 17 comments on the Orlando Sentinel story from Mar 3, 2009, titled Lauren Ritchie: The Villages in Lake Couny tangles with IRS ove.... In it, Orlando Sentinel reports that:

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Juan

Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

#1 Mar 4, 2009
Who cares if he rips off yanks...I don't and they don't seem to care.
Outrageous

Windermere, FL

#2 Mar 4, 2009
this whole mess is just outrageous. Honesty and fair dealing seems to a forgotten concept but one upon which this wonderful nation of ours was built. Something that the sharpies on Wall street, the "Big Three" automobile companies, our free spending congress that is currently proposing over 2,000 pork barrel "earmarks" in the latest budget by President Obama, which his budget director says that he will go along iwth. So who it appears that the "high-rollers" are lining their pockets at the expense of John doe taxpayer, and the so-caled leaders of our country scratch their heads as to wy there shold be a crisis of confidence. Who stands up for America?
By the way Ms. Ritchie FYI, the total
approximately $650,000,000 in question in the Morse deals, represents about one year's operating revenue for the Lake County Schol Board which allegedly is in such a financial crisis that is proposing the lay-off and non-hire of over 120 classroom teachers next year, which will have catastrophic consequences for our kids which directly affects all of us and not the rich retirees in the Villages, but yet we don't hear one beep from you or the Sentinel's management as to what the facts and circumstances are that are involved with this fiasco? As a thinking person that cares deeply about our kids' future, I can't help but wonder why the silence?????
Hear Villagers Squeeel

Windermere, FL

#3 Mar 4, 2009
I don't want to the the wealthy voices of the villagers squel when they get stuck with the bill because they appear not to have hired their own attorney to represent their interests and instead rely only on the IRS at taxpayers' expense, which will inevitably bow to political pressure and probably not even recover our expenses in prosecuting this mess?
NorthMichigan Resident

Orlando, FL

#4 Mar 4, 2009
Ms. Ritchie, why don't you do a background check on the Morse family, they are from Northern Michigan and had a business there. It seems to have closed suddenly a long time ago and then a few years back that this Gary Morse or his father was that family. I just wonder how they were able to purchase and grow so rapidly to the size they are now? Was there "fowl play up there? Or, just very wise at covering up thier finances and how they really obtained millions.
Just a little homework for you, since you enjoy this sort of digging into someone's past.
JTD

Ocala, FL

#5 Mar 4, 2009
The amounts mentioned in the article could be way too low as two districts have issued these bonds for many years.

I disagree that the district could levy a tax on residents and also be held not to be a government unit that could issue tax free bonds. Can't have it both ways.

The developer could and should have asked for a private letter ruling from IRS in advance of the issue of the bonds. This ruling would have given an opinion on the taxable nature of the bonds prior to issue. It would have stated that the district would be held to be a government entity or a mere sham.

I think it is Mr Morse's mess or the holders of the bonds.The residents only involvement was to pay amenities to the developer. He then sold these contracts to the district to cover the payment of the bonds. The residents had no veto over the sale of the amenity contracts. The residents were also not involved in or had any knowledge of the sale of assets or income streams to the district.
Launch

Lady Lake, FL

#6 Mar 4, 2009
There is only one major issue involved, do the Districts qualify to issue tax exempt bonds? Everything else in these articles is typical sensationalism. The Villages residents pay no more or no less because of the sales and issuance of the bonds. The only question at hand is does Uncle Sam get his pound of flesh? People who are commenting on higher numbers are confusing the different type Development Districts. There are no issues on the vast majority of the bonds that have been issued over the years.
MY Opinion

United States

#7 Mar 4, 2009
to bad so sad pay your taxes.
TVP

Lady Lake, FL

#8 Mar 4, 2009
Please note that the people who live in The Villages should not be liable for the any of the problems created by the Morse family. The people in The Villages pay their property taxes and school taxes. The school taxes are paid to 3 different counties-Lake, Sumpter and Marion. The people in The Villages do not complain about paying their fair portion of school taxes even though they will never have children in the school systems. It is a large retirement community and children 19 or younger can not live their.
Founder Swartz

United States

#9 Mar 4, 2009
NorthMichigan Resident wrote:
Ms. Ritchie, why don't you do a background check on the Morse family, they are from Northern Michigan and had a business there. It seems to have closed suddenly a long time ago and then a few years back that this Gary Morse or his father was that family. I just wonder how they were able to purchase and grow so rapidly to the size they are now? Was there "fowl play up there? Or, just very wise at covering up thier finances and how they really obtained millions.
Just a little homework for you, since you enjoy this sort of digging into someone's past.
Orange Blossom Gardens was started on the east side of 27-441 by Mr. Swartz.
I only remember he and his wife having one child. I think her name was Sharon Swartz. She married H. Gary Morse. Down here we knew nothing about Morse. Mr Swartz died some years ago and later Ms Morse died of breast cancer. Just where he got his bonding education, who knows, but the same thing is happening to the tax payers of Lake Co at large. Bonds are issued for all wants of the greedy taxpayers servants. Thanks to Jimmy Conner we will have a meeting before the greedy put us further in debt.
PowderTown

United States

#10 Mar 4, 2009
Lauren Ritchie,
Personally, I appreciate the effort you have put into researching this article.
Juan evidently thinks that when you cannot discuss an issue INTELLIGENTLY, insult them. Outrageous prefers to talk " Politics" in lieu of the subject matter and compounds the problem by talking about comparing School Board budgets (tax payer funded) and Mr. Morse taking a hefty profit on possibly illegal bond transactions. In regards to "Hear Villager's Squeeel" (by the way squeel is correctly spelled SQUEAL), he assumes that most of the Villagers are just full of money. Granted, there are probably some that are, as they say, loaded, but in my opinion the average homeowner is not wealthy. I am presently a homeowner and do not even come close to being "loaded". I have worked over 40 years to pay my bills, save in a 401k and work at one company for thirty years (30) in order to receive a pension. In an article written about the Village's, it was stated that the average income was $81,480. This article was about Mr. Morse indirectly and what a wonderful job he has done with the Village's. Personally, I suspect the $81,480 was a marketing tool. However, assuming you collect social security, have a decent pension and have saved, you might possible make that type of income when retired. However, the article did not state how this income was derived. I assumed the above three (3) methods. In reality many "Home Owners" do not live at the villages either because they still have a home somewhere else or cannot retire at this time for one reason or another. So if the average income is $81,480 based on combined paychecks, then it is very attainable. However, if you were to survey most of the owners that actually live at the "Village's" full time and actually are retired, I suspect the average income would be less than the $81,480 stated in the article. As for "Northern Michigan Resident"….the article is about Mr. Morse and his present situation, not his past of 40 years ago. In the case of “JTD”, I agree 100% with the points he has mentioned.
My interest with your article lies with the consequence’s of Mr. Morse’s/District problems. As a prospective home owner, we were told that the Amenity Fee would be used to support the Golf Courses, Pools, Club House’s, Maintenance etc. There was no mention that a good portion would be used to pay off a bond. We were accustomed to defining “Amenity Fee” as a fee to use the facilities, not pay off bonds. In other words, I had no reason to question the Amenity Fee. I know that there are Home Owners that would prefer just to stay in their little “Bubble” and are happy just paying what they pay. However, the consequence’s of being in your “Bubble” and not taking an interest in this problem is you may find your self owing quite a bit of money that you may not have available. It could be several years before this issue is resolved and you may find that paying $18 – 20,000 has a large impact on your quality of life down the road. If the IRS resolves this issue with Mr. Morse/District and depending on how it is resolved, you could quite literally be paying through the nose to right Mr. Morse’s/District’s ship. The question is not that he is making a profit, but how much profit is enough (at the expense of the residents) and was it legal or tax evasion. Everyone from J.P.Morgan to the Vanderbilts have paid the price for being to greedy. It’s usually just a matter of time. I have read all 104 pages of the IRS findings and if the facts are true, then Mr. Morse/District deserve the consequence’s. If Mr. Morse/District are found guilty, I personally would be furious at having to pay to get a scam artist/swindler off the hook.
Carpetbagger Alert

AOL

#11 Mar 4, 2009
I have worked in government for around 30 years and have watched this drama develop for the same period of time. The 2 attornies that helped Gary Morse engineer this giant scam are now dead and gone. All of them became very wealthy but that would have never happened if they had tried to get a private ruling from the IRS in advance. The IRS would have stopped them cold and they knew it so they took a gamble to see how long they could get away with it.

I have watched them pull off stunts that no legitimate government would ever try to get away with. And they did it without having to account to anyone for their actions. In a real government the governing body has to answer to the voters. In this case residents were so thrilled with their new surroundings and golf courses they did bother to ask any questions or pay attention to what was going on.

This is just another case of enormous greed. Look at Madoff and Stanton and you will see this is just another scam. The investors (residents and bondholders) are the ones that are going to lose. When this is over the districts probably will not be able to issue tax free bonds but they will be able to collect taxes and fees. And that is how this huge liability will be paid off. Plus the bondholders will take a tremendous loss on the bonds they are holding once they become taxable.
Booobear51751

Tuscaloosa, AL

#12 Mar 5, 2009
This is one of the best written articles I have seen in a very long time. I live here in The Villages and want more of this type of news put out by the Orlando Sentinel. We do not get facts about anything from the family (Morris) owned newspaper, the Daily Sun. Our crime rate is up, our property values are down and now this. Please keep up the good work. Maybe more people will stop buying the Daily Sun and will buy the Orlando Sentinel if you had a section in it for this particule area.
Roger and Pat Scott

Lady Lake, FL

#13 Mar 5, 2009
We purchase a property...with a Bond...which we never really understand what it is for...If you are buying in a geted communtiy...You purchase an over priced house.. considering that is the additional $$$$$$ to pay for the structure and development of ameneties...Streets are public...like any ohter neighborhood... Then the monthly payments of 70,000 paying $135.00 monthly ameneites...for residents maintain to these ameneties....including Executive golf courses..

Why would we be required to pay...out of pocket...anything...
Definitely, the developer is responsible....
GolfingComa

Rossville, GA

#14 Mar 5, 2009
There are numerous remedies for the residents if and when they get hit by assessments from the bond issues.

The CDD's also have options and could go the way of California or get an AIG style bail out - oh no that won't happen because 1. this is republican territory and 2. residents here don't insure the congress's pension plan like AIG does. Oh so much for vested interest.

The fact that the CDD does not have an independent appraiser for dealings with the developer is truly shameful. The CDD just bought the Utility from Morse and friends for a very tidy profit - but what exactly was that spread and how was the sales price determined? Some rec centers that have already been purchased show a disturbing trend. Gross profit where the operative word is gross.

Maybe Morse will have an epiphany and become the benevolent developer that he truly could be. Fair and balanced certainly creates a better community for generations.
Bill

Eustis, FL

#15 Mar 5, 2009
BOOOBEAR51751 is right on!
The article is a good one. Too bad we can't hear it from our own newspaper.
This is a situation for the Property Owners' Association to get involved in, since the VHA will most probably not even print a word of what is happening about this. The POA has already proved itself to be the organization OF the people in the villages.
Estok

Sorrento, FL

#16 Mar 6, 2009
It's about time they caught up to Morse.
Final Analysis

Windermere, FL

#17 Mar 6, 2009
In the final analysis and when is all said and done, it will not be Mr. Morris, the Villages Homewoners, or any of the consultants and tax attorneys that created this mess, that will wind-up holding the financial bag, it will be the states' and nations' taxpayers. A short research effort indicates that the IRS has a dismal record of enforcing the Tax Code in scams like this all over the country so the final amounts received by the IRS will likely be "negotiated" down to pennies on the dollar. The influential predominately Republican Villages Homewoners will squell to Congresswoman Waite-Brown to interecede on their behalves and the slickters by now have their fees well hidden in Swiss or offshore bank accounts. So when all else fails, then get ready for yet another taxpayer funded "bail-out". Afterall, what is a mere $750,000,000 in an era of trillion dollar Federal Government giveaways of taxpayer dollars?
PowderTown wrote:
Lauren Ritchie,
Personally, I appreciate the effort you have put into researching this article.
Juan evidently thinks that when you cannot discuss an issue INTELLIGENTLY, insult them. Outrageous prefers to talk " Politics" in lieu of the subject matter and compounds the problem by talking about comparing School Board budgets (tax payer funded) and Mr. Morse taking a hefty profit on possibly illegal bond transactions. In regards to "Hear Villager's Squeeel" (by the way squeel is correctly spelled SQUEAL), he assumes that most of the Villagers are just full of money. Granted, there are probably some that are, as they say, loaded, but in my opinion the average homeowner is not wealthy. I am presently a homeowner and do not even come close to being "loaded". I have worked over 40 years to pay my bills, save in a 401k and work at one company for thirty years (30) in order to receive a pension. In an article written about the Village's, it was stated that the average income was $81,480. This article was about Mr. Morse indirectly and what a wonderful job he has done with the Village's. Personally, I suspect the $81,480 was a marketing tool. However, assuming you collect social security, have a decent pension and have saved, you might possible make that type of income when retired. However, the article did not state how this income was derived. I assumed the above three (3) methods. In reality many "Home Owners" do not live at the villages either because they still have a home somewhere else or cannot retire at this time for one reason or another. So if the average income is $81,480 based on combined paychecks, then it is very attainable. However, if you were to survey most of the owners that actually live at the "Village's" full time and actually are retired, I suspect the average income would be less than the $81,480 stated in the article. As for "Northern Michigan Resident"….the article is about Mr. Morse and his present situation, not his past of 40 years ago. In the case of “JTD”, I agree 100% with the points he has mentioned.
My interest with your article lies with the consequence’s of Mr. Morse’s/District problems. As a prospective home owner, we were told that the Amenity Fee would be used to support the Golf Courses, Pools, Club House’s, Maintenance etc. There was no mention that a good portion would be used to pay off a bond. We were accustomed to defining “Amenity Fee” as a fee to use the facilities, not pay off bonds. In other words, I had no reason to question the Amenity Fee. I know that there are Home Owners that would prefer just to stay in their little “Bubble” and are happy just paying what they pay. However, the consequence’s of being in your “Bubble” and not taking an interest in this problem is you may find your self owing quite a bit of money that you may not have available. It could be several years before this issue is resolved and you

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