THE TA A TRIBUNE-TIMES, Sunday, February 17,1985 Wa-e
may cut some
The water district
all the local water
control authorities last
year but backed down
By DAN BERNSTEIN
Tribune Staff Writer
In a move that appears certain to
generate additional controversy, the
Southwest Florida Water Manage-
ment District has drafted a plan to
reduce the number of local water
control authorities in the district
from eight to three. Bruce Samson, chairman of the
Last July, the district proposed Southwest Florida Water
eliminating all eight local authori- Management District: The
ties, known as basin boards, but the existing network has grown
district backed down after heated "increasingly cumbersome."
objections from state legislators and
Yet the district's governing an example, she cited a plan to con-
board voted to slash the budgets of trol flooding in parts of Carrollwood
the basin boards, an action which re- and Town 'N Country by diverting
sulted in a lawsuit. storm water flows from Sweetwater
The latest plan was presented to Creek to an area of cypress trees.
the district's governing board during "The best proposal is to keep the
a workshop session earlier this basins along hydrological bound-
month and is expected to be come varies she said.
up again at another session next She added that basin boards
month, according to board Chair- have been instrumental in funding
man Bruce Samson. parks, including the new Hillsbor-
Unlike the existing eight basin ough Wilderness Park off U.S. High-
boards whose boundaries are based way 301.
on surface water systems, the bound- Parsons said a meeting has been
aries of the proposed "sub-districts" scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at Bap-
would coincide with county lines, tist Manor Library at 215 Grand Cen-
Samson said Saturday. trial Ave. to bring all interested par-
Under the proposal, Hillsborough ties together to discuss the latest
County would be in a central sub-dis- water district proposal.
trict along with Pinellas, Pasco and "We want to come up with a con-
"Polk counties. There also would be census as to what we would like to
northern and southern sub-districts present to the Legislature on what
made up of the remaining 12 coun- basin board responsibilities should
ties in the district, be," she said.
Samson said that while the pro- The district plans to approach
posed boundaries may be shifted the Legislature also.
somewhat, he favors reducing the Samson said the district's paid
number of local water authorities lobbyist, former House Speaker
because the existing network has Ralph Haben, has been instructed to
grown "increasingly cumbersome." sound out key lawmakers on the
He noted that Polk County is split boundary changes.
among three different basin boards, While the Legislature would not
a situation that has prompted cries have to approve any changes in
for reform from county officials, basin board boundaries, they would
Samson said much of the respon- have final say over any shift in tax-
siblity for flood control has shifted ing powers.
over the years from basin boards to Currently, each basin has the
the district. power to levy up to 0.75 mills (a mill
"These surface water hydrologi- equals $1 for every $1,000 of as-
cal boundaries aren't that relevant" sessed property) while the district
he said, adding that storm water can levy up to 0.25 mills. But the dis-
flows and wetlands systems often trict sets the budgets for the basins.
cross basin board boundary lines. Because of the lawsuit over the
Gall Parsons, a member of the budget, property owners in the dis-
Northwest Hillsborough Basin trict have had to pay an additional
Board, said she fears the new pro- $7.3 million in taxes this year to
posal would mean the elimination of cover wish lists for both sides until
many local flood control projects, As the matter is settled.