Title: Complaint filed by SWFWMD vs. Hernando County
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 Material Information
Title: Complaint filed by SWFWMD vs. Hernando County
Alternate Title: Complaint filed by SWFWMD vs. Hernando County for declaration for SWFWMD to continue collecting ad valorem taxes following boundary changes.
Physical Description: 5p.
Language: English
Publication Date: Jan. 8, 1975
 Subjects
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
 Notes
General Note: Box 1, Folder 3 ( BOUNDARY CHANGES - WATER MANAGEMENT DISTRICTS, vol. II ), Item 20
Funding: Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00050563
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

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IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE FIFTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT OF THE STATE
OF FLORIDA IN AND FOR HERNANDO COUNTY, CIVIL ACTION


SOUTHWEST FLORIDA WATER )
MANAGEMENT DISTRICT, a public
corporation, )

Plaintiff, )

vs. ) Case No.

HERNANDO COUNTY, FLORIDA, a )
political subdivision,

Defendant.



COMPLAINT IN ACTION TO DECLARE THAT THE
SOUTHWEST FLORIDA WATER MANAGEMENT DISTRICT MAY CONTINUE TO
LEVY DISTRICT AND WATERSHED BASIN AD VALOREM TAXES AFTER THE
BOUNDARIES OF THE DISTRICT ARE CHANGED PURSUANT TO SECTION 373.069.
(3), FLORIDA STATUTES


Plaintiff, Southwest Florida Water Management District, by

and through its undersigned attorneys, sues Defendant, Hernando

County, and alleges as follows:

1. Plaintiff is a public corporation created by act of

the Legislature and encompasses part or all of 15 counties,

including the entire area within Hernando County.

2. Defendant, Hernando County, is a political subdivision of

the State of Florida and has or claims an interest which may be

affected by the relief sought herein.

3. This is an action broughtunder Chapter 86, Florida

Statutes, for a Declaratory Judgment.

4. .The Plaintiff is entitled to relief against the Defendant

upon the following facts.

(a) Plaintiff was created on July 1, 1961 by act of the

Legislature set forth in Chapter 61-691, Laws of Florida, for the

purpose defined in Chapter 378, Florida Statutes (now Chapter 373,

F.S.) for carrying out and effectuating the provisions of said

chapter as a special, multi-county water management district.

(b) On authority of and as directed by Section 5 of such act,-

all of th-le area of thle District is subdivided jintl;o water
(c) A portion of ilH rnaindo. County lies w.i t.ljhi n the Ii.i.ll ;aboroutihi

ive.,r sin; another portion of liernando County 1 ies wi 1 in












IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE FIFTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT OF THE STATE
OF FLORIDA IN AND FOR HERNANDO COUNTY, CIVIL ACTION


SOUTHWEST FLORIDA WATER )
MANAGEMENT DISTRICT, a public
corporation, )

Plaintiff, )

vs. ) Case No.

HERNANDO COUNTY, FLORIDA, a )
political subdivision,

Defendant.



COMPLAINT IN ACTION TO DECLARE THAT THE
SOUTHWEST FLORIDA WATER MANAGEMENT DISTRICT MAY CONTINUE TO
LEVY DISTRICT AND WATERSHED BASIN AD VALOREM TAXES AFTER THE
BOUNDARIES OF THE DISTRICT ARE CHANGED PURSUANT TO SECTION 373.069
(3), FLORIDA STATUTES


Plaintiff, Southwest Florida Water Management District, by

and through its undersigned attorneys, sues Defendant, Hernando

County, and alleges as follows:

1. Plaintiff is a public corporation created by act of

the Legislature and encompasses part or all of 15 counties,

including the entire area within Hernando County.

2. Defendant, Hernando County, is a political subdivision of

the State of Florida and has or claims an interest which may be

affected by the relief sought herein.

3. This is an action broughtunder Chapter 86, Florida

Statutes, for a Declaratory Judgment.

4. .The Plaintiff is entitled to relief against the Defendant

upon the following facts.

(a) Plaintiff was created on July 1, 1961 by act of the

Legislature set forth in Chapter 61-691, Laws of Florida, for the

purpose defined in Chapter 378, Florida Statutes (now Chapter 373,

F.S.) for carrying out and effectuating the provisions of said

chapter as a special, multi-county water management district.

(b) On authority of and as directed by Section 5 of such act:,

all. of the area of the District is subdivided Jint:o watelrshe: d bla.sins.

(c) A portion of il.rnando C.ou|nty lic.s wi tin the ill sbor1ou<,h

River B,.sin; another portion of lifrnando County 1 i es wi thin









the Pithlachascotee River Basin; and, the remaining portion of

Hernando County lies within the Withlacoochee River Basin.

(d) Annually since 1961 the Plaintiff has levied an

ad valorem tax on all property of the District subject to county

taxes to produce the necessary funds with which the Plaintiff

finances certain authorized activities; the Plaintiff is authorized

to levy such tax not to exceed three tenths mill on the dollar of

assessed value for District purposes.

(e) In addition the Plaintiff is authorized to annually levy,

and has so levied, ad valorem taxes to finance the watershed basin

functions authorized for the respective basins; such tax levy

is authorized not to exceed one mill.

(f) The Plaintiff has received assistance in the form of

grants-in-aid from the Department of Natural Resources of the State

of Florida through an account known as the Water Resources Develop-

ment Account; prior to the current fiscal year such grants have

been limited for use to cover costs allocated to the Plaintiff for

constructing the works of the District, for the acquisition of

lands for water storage areas, and for highway bridge construction;

during the current fiscal year the Plaintiff has also received a

grant from the State of Florida to help defray the cost of adminis-

trative, regulatory and other activities of the Plaintiff; such

grants received have constituted only a small portion of the total

costs expended by Plaintiff in carrying out its water management

activities.

(g) The Plaintiff in the discharge of its duties and responsi-

bilities under applicable law and in the public interest has begun

or assumed responsibility for numerous, far-reaching projects

requiring substantial sums of money including: being a local

sponsor for the federally approved Four River Basins, Florida

Project, including an active acquisition program to secure necessary

water storage lands and rights of way; extensive cooperative programs

with the United States Geological Survey for data collection, tests

and studios; extensive regulatory activities to insure proper

management and protection of the w, ter resources of the area; an

extensive mlapping progr;mn of floor. d prone .ircl:s to afford h:,a:;ic dit-i









for use in long range government and private planning; and, numerous

other programs relating to the proper management of the water

resources throughout the area, all of which activities require

long range planning and the expenditure of large sums of money.

Untimely termination of such activities would result in a great

waste of public funds and would be very detrimental to the public

interest.

(h) The current budget period for Plaintiff runs through

September 30, 1975.

(i) Revenues received by Plaintiff from ad valorem taxes

constitute the primary source of funds with which the Plaintiff

funds its activities and discharges the responsibilities imposed

upon it by the Legislature and there is no apparent source from

which said funds could be replaced if the Plaintiff were to be

deprived of its capacity to levy District-wide and watershed basin

ad valorem taxes.

(j)' It is the intent of the Legislature that these activities

be continued and expanded by the the respective water management

districts and that Plaintiff's authority to levy ad valorem taxes

not be impaired for those certain areas remaining within Plaintiff's

area. Territories annexed into Plaintiff's area will be subject

to the levy of ad valorem taxes only upon approval of electors

residing in the annexed territory. 373.503 (2), F.S.

(k) The revised Constitution of the State of Florida, provides

that special districts may be authorized by law to levy ad valorem

taxes, but only when approved by vote of electors, 9 (b), Article

VII. However, Section 15 of Article XII states:

Ad valorem taxing power vested by law in special
districts existing when this revision becomes effective
shall not be abrogated by Section 9 (b) of Article VII
herein . [emphasis added]

(1) Plaintiff is, and continuously since July 1, 1961 has

been, a "special district" vested by law with ad valorem taxing

power as contemplated by the provisions of the Constitution referred

to iJn the proceeding paragraph.

(In) Subsection 373.069 (3), F.S., provides that on July 1,

1975 the boulndaries of PMa.intiff will b







Oklawaha River Basin, and part of the Green Swamp Basin; it

further provides that several areas, including the Manatee and

Sarasota counties, will be' annexed into, and become a part of, the

area encompassed by Plaintiff.

(n) Plaintiff contends, and by this action seeks supporting

judicial decree, that its status as a special district, as

contemplated by the constitution, will not be altered when its

area is reconstituted by the change of its boundaries on July 1, 1975.

(o) After July 1, 1975, Plaintiff's taxing authority will be

exposed to possible challenge on constitutional grounds that it

is. no longer a special district that existed when the Florida

Constitution was revised in 1968; if successful, the challenge

would divest Plaintiff of its authority to levy ad valorem taxes

and deprive it of the ability to raise sufficient revenues with

which to discharge .its responsibilities.

(p) This divestment could not be corrected by future remedial

legislative action because of the constitutional bar set forth

in Section 9, Article VII.

(q) Without supporting judicial decree Plaintiff is in

doubt as to its right to continue to levy ad valorem taxes as

authorized by Chapter 61-691, Laws of Florida, as preserved by

Section 373.503, F.S., after Plaintiff's area is reconstituted

by the change of its boundaries on July 1, 1975, without further

approval of the electors pursuant to 9 (b), Article VII of the

State Constitution.

(r) There is an actual, bona fide, present and practical

need for judicial declaration as to such rights prior to adjourn-

ment of the regular 1975 session of the Legislature so that if

such decree is adverse, the legislature may take such steps as it

deems appropriate toward modifying the provisions of Chapter 373,

F.S., prior to July 1, 1975, preventing such rights from becoming

irretrievably lost.

(s) Defendant, Hernando County, is authorized to perform

acts which are in the common interest of the people of the county

and to exorciss all powers anld pr-i.vilcj( r not specifically prohi-

bited by law; tlhe people of Herln;ndo Counlty ownLinig property :lsubjc









the Plaintiff for district-wide purposes and for the respective

watershed basin purposes.

(t) The ad valorem taxpayers in He:rnando County, and Defen-

dant on behalf of such people, have an actual, present and adverse

interest to see that lands within such.county are not unlawfully

taxed and that tax funds derived from such taxation is not

unlawfully spent.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff respectfully requests this Honorable

Court enter a Declaratory Judgment decreeing that the change of

the areas encompassed by the Southwest Florida Water Management

District resulting from the loss of some territories and the

gain of others on July 1, 1975:

1. Will not terminate the status and existence of Plaintiff

as a special district which was vested with ad valorem taxing power

on the date the 1968 Florida Constitution became effective; and

2. Will not impair the authority of Plaintiff to continue

annually to levy ad valorem taxes up to one (1) mill'for watershed

basin purposes and up to three-tenths (3/10) mill for District

purposes, as authorized by law, on all property subject to county

taxes located in territories which were within the Southwest Florida

Water Management District prior to July 1, 1975 and which remain

within the District aater such date.

Dated this i day of January, 1 9).



'/L/M. Blain of
Gibbons, Tucker, McEwen,
Smith, Cofer & Taub
P. O. Box 1363
Tampa, Florida 33512
Attorney for Petitioner




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