Off Pace

Guest Correspondence

BY CATHY ANTUNES SRQ DAILY SATURDAY PERSPECTIVES EDITION SATURDAY OCT 24, 2020

Recent revelations regarding incumbent County Commissioner Mike Moran serving as Executive Director of the Florida PACE Funding Agency deserve attention. Does it serve citizens for a public official to have a lucrative job with a business which requires that same official’s approval and oversight? The answer to that question used to be “absolutely not.” The conflict of interest is obvious. Today, there are enough people profiting from or rationalizing such arrangements, that others may find themselves thinking this is normal. It’s not.

PACE stands for Property Assessed Clean Energy. Property Assessed Clean Energy is a way to attain money for “clean energy” home improvements. One PACE financier lists 84 improvements which can be financed with a PACE loan. The list includes ceiling fans, skylights, insulating carpeting and padding, french glass doors, water heaters, and more, along with hyped solar improvements.  

Here’s the important part: Unlike a loan, funding through PACE is acquired by putting a tax lien on your home, and payment is collected through your property taxes. That’s why PACE requires the approval of local government to operate in any jurisdiction. In 2017, PACE was approved with three affirmative votes from County Commissioners, which included Moran. Commissioners opposed cited concerns like those outlined by FHA. Residential PACE financing is only available in three states: California, Florida and Missouri. 

A PACE tax lien becomes the first lien on the property, taking priority over the mortgage.

According the Federal Housing Finance Agency, “underwriting for PACE programs results in collateral-based lending [in this case, the collateral is your home]  rather than lending based upon ability-to-pay..” Sound familiar? Think about the no-doc mortgages in the early 2000’s. FHA goes on to say that PACE financing is absent “the Truth-in-Lending Act and other consumer protections” and there is “uncertainty as to whether the home improvements actually produce meaningful reductions in energy consumption.”


A PACE tax lien remains with the property—not with the original borrower—if it hasn't been paid off by the time a property is sold. A local mortgage broker shared that he is seeing mortgage lenders refuse to lend for a property with an existing PACE lien, making it difficult for PACE borrowers to sell. If a PACE borrower falls on hard times and is making their mortgage payments but unable to pay the PACE lien when property taxes come due, they can lose their home to foreclosure. This has happened to PACE borrowers. PACE loans sound simple, but the truth (and risk) is complicated.

Commissioner Moran is paid $150,000 a year to serve as Executive Director of Florida PACE Funding Agency, considerably more than his $91,821 County Commissioner salary. How can we trust a Commissioner to look out for constituents when he is paid handsomely to look out for PACE? In the County’s PACE hearings, Moran argued against consumer protections for PACE borrowers. Perhaps, with this election, it’s time for Sarasota to let the fox out of the hen house, and let Moran work full-time for PACE.

Cathy Antunes is host of The Detail.

Picture courtesy SCGov.net

« View The Saturday Oct 24, 2020 SRQ Daily Edition
« Back To SRQ Daily Archive

Read More

Character Matters

Character Matters

Jennifer Vigne | Nov 21, 2020

New Elected Bodies, New-Found Accountability

New Elected Bodies, New-Found Accountability

Christine Robinson | Nov 21, 2020

Here4YOUth on Mental Health

Here4YOUth on Mental Health

Mark Pritchett | Nov 21, 2020

Startup Success Begins at SCF

Startup Success Begins at SCF

Carol Probstfeld | Nov 21, 2020