| Material Information
||Newsletter article, by Nanette Holland.
||Newsletter article, by Nanette Holland. Water district critics return, with assistance. Tribune
||Dec. 6, 1993
||North America -- United States of America -- Florida
||Box 1, Folder 7 ( FUNDING WATER MANAGEMENT DISTRICTS ), Item 90
||Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
By NANETTE HOLLAND
Tribune Staff Writer /2 & 73
BROOKSVILLE They're back with reinforce-
ments. "I've never seen such spontaneity in demanding a
They are the critics of the state's five water man- change. This is obviously a festering problem with a
agement districts who vowed to get even when two of lot of citizens," Guetzloe said. "The [districts'] days of
the water boards, including the Southwest Florida dis- independence can be safely assumed to be num-
trict, raised taxes this year. bered."
The reinforcements are state legislators, who cre- Guetzloe said most anger is directed at the South-
ated the water boards and now are being pressured west Florida district, which regulates water supplies
by anti-tax groups to rein them in. in West Central Florida. The board increased taxes 31
The districts' opponents accuse them of fiscal glut- percent this year to establish a fund to help communi-
tony. Particularly chafing is the ability of the appoint- ties finance alternative water solutions such as desali-
ed water boards to collect property taxes, leading to nation or use of treated wastewater.
an oft-repeated chant of "taxation without representa- The St. Johns water board also raised taxes,
tion." though resident lobbying persuaded that agency to
The tax opponents, are being joined by farmers, pare its increase from 55 to 31 percent.
developers and other special interests who are find- Florida's water management program is consid-
ing themselves squeezed by district regulations on wa- ered among the most progressive in the nation. Its
ter use and are seizing an opportunity to jump on the supporters argue that elected boards would make the
bandwagon. difficult process of divvying up water more political,
They have taken their complaints to state legisla- not less. But the public's perception is divided.
tors. So far, at least four bills relating to the operation Rarely a year goes by without some attempt to
of the districts are on tap for the coming legislative change the structure of the controversial districts,
session. which have gradually assumed more power as water
The proposals range from a has become a pivotal concern for the state. In recent
constitutional amendment that J [ years, the districts have been forced to hire internal
would let voters decide whether auditors, get rid of their outside lobbyists, and submit
the water boards should retain their budgets to legislative review, said Ed Hobin,
their taxing ability, to the cre- 3 # f legislative affairs director for the Southwest district.
action of an independent commit- Gov. Lawton Chiles is not likely to support sweep-
tee to examine whether the dis- i ing changes in the way the districts operate, insiders
tricts need an extensive overhaul. say.
"At this point, we're encourag- More likely to get support from both the gover-
ing all the efforts that have come nor's office and other legislators is a proposal by Rep.
forth," said Doug Guetzloe of Ax Julie McClure, D-Bradenton, and Sen. John McKay,
the Tax. The Orlando-based grass- McKay R-Bradenton, to create a study commission to look at
roots group formed to protest a tax increase proposed what, if any, changes are needed at the water boards.
by the St. Johns River water district and then It would include independent experts, environ-
marched west to battle the Southwest Florida board. mentalists, farmers and other interest groups.