Title: Water and Living Resources Subcommittee
CITATION PAGE IMAGE
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00051960/00001
 Material Information
Title: Water and Living Resources Subcommittee
Alternate Title: Water and Living Resources Subcommittee, House Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Charles Smith, Chairman. Excerpts from Transcript. Public Hearing
Physical Description: 42p.
Language: English
Publication Date: January 14, 1985
 Subjects
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
 Notes
General Note: Box 4, Folder 1 ( SF BASIN BOARD CONCEPT ), Item 44
Funding: Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00051960
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.

Full Text







WATER AND LIVING RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE /


Rep. Charles Smith, Chairman


EXCERPTS FROM TRANSCRIPT


Public Hearing January 14, 1985


Mr. Samson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'm Bruce Samson, Chairman of the Governing
Board of the Southwest Florida Water Management District. It's my pleasure to welcome
all of you here this morning who haven't been here in the past. We extend to any of you
who are interested, if there is time available this afternoon or tomorrow, our staff is
available and would welcome the opportunity to discuss with you in any detail you would
desire, what the Southwest Florida Water Management District is all about, and take you
on a quick tour of the area here. Before I get into my remarks. As an indication of our
Governing Board's interest in this item that you're going to discuss and hear today,
Walter Harkala, Governing Board member from Plant City in Hillsborough County, is
with us today; Jack Straughn, who has just come in the door here, a Governing Board
member from Polk County is with us today; and there are several other Governing Board
members who are hoping to get up here during your public hearing. So I think it's
important for everyone to be aware also how important we consider this to be. Again,
we appreciate your coming to Brooksville.
First, in order to try to clear the air a little bit, your chairman was good enough to
take some time to come and be with us at our workshop last Tuesday, and there were
other concerned parties there also. I think we had a very candid and open discussion on
the concerns that we all have. I felt it went very well and we sincerely hope that as a
result of that discussion, that as we move along into the session there will be a real
opportunity to resolve these very legitimate differences of opinion. I think we all are
concerned about the resource and how we best regulate and protect it. So, again,
Mr. Chairman on behalf of our Governing Board and our District, we really do appreciate
your taking the time to be with us last week and it was most productive and helpful.
I also want to state at this time, as I indicated last Tuesday, we, the District and
the Governing Board, sincerely regret the obvious misunderstandings and perceptions that
existed as a result of that legislation we were a part of that was passed during the last
session. Regardless of what we perceive to be the facts or you perceive to be the facts,
the bottom line is that many people were not aware of just what was in that legislation








Transcript Water and Living Resources Subcommittee (continued)



and that is not an appropriate way to conduct the public's business and to the degree that
we were responsible for it, we regret it. I personally regret it. That was a major factor
in our decision last July, not to abolish the Basin Boards because we had gotten enough
input from legislators by that time and had gotten enough input from concerned citizens
and members of the public, that obviously there was a misunderstanding and
misperception out there as to what we were trying to accomplish. So that is why the
Basin Boards remain intact, as they were and they remain today, and the decisions that
we made in July, we were able to make based on our prior capabilities that had nothing
to do with the legislation that was passed during the last session.
In order to proceed and to resolve this issue, last Wednesday at our Governing
Board meeting, the Board unanimously authorized Mr. Haben, whom I think most of you
know, to enter into discussions with legislators and other key authorities to attempt to
come to an understanding of how this issue can be resolved and come back to the
Governing Board to make an effort to see if there isn't some area that we can all meet
our respective needs. I'm going to spend a few minutes with you to carry you through
some of the rather distant history of the District and then what has occurred in the last
three to four years. I think that will set the tenor for where we have come from, why
and where we're trying to go, and that may give you a flavor and lay in place some of the
thought process that our Board and staff0nt through.
I see ee issue First, is the village spli As I think most of you know, we
are talking about one mill that this Governing Board has the power to levy by
constitutional amendment. We're also empowered by statute to levy that full mill.
However, it is subsequently by statute broken down where one-quarter of that full mill
can be totally levied under the total control of the Governing Board. Three-quarters is
subject to the request of the various Basin Boards. As we move down our track and as we
see the future, we see that as a very real practical problem and in a few minutes I'll get
into some of those reason bhe second area has to do with the difference of opinion as
to what are the legitimate Basin Board responsibilities as we intrepret Chapter 373 and
our feelings are those really relate to responsibilities, the historic responsibilities really,
where the Basin Board members have been directly involved and that is local flood
control concerns and local drainage concerns. It is our judgment in all the other areas
that we consider to have broad regional impact, regulation for example, the Governing
Board should have that jurisc~ition and control. I think that's a difference of opinion.
The other area is in regard local input. I think all of us feel that local input is vital.
One of the things we went through in our thought process last spring is that we had
contacted other water management districts and as I suspect most of you know, none of



-2-









Transcript Water and Living Resources Subcommittee (continued)



the other water management districts utilize Basins in any degree such as do we. As a
matter of fact, Im not aware that any use them other than those that are mandated by
statute. So we talked to the Northwest District and they had utilized a different
approach which they recommended highly and that was local advisory boards using both
lay and elected officials in areas of particular interest, a particular area that has a great
problem of water supply, a particular area that is rapidly evolving into an urban area-
those sorts of items. Getting, in effect, a task force together in the District that would
zero in on a particular item of concern. We felt that made some sense and had some
appeal and as a matter of fact, last Wednesday our Governing Board unanimously decided
in the area of water shortage because we do have concerns particularly in certain areas
of this District we may be facing that in the next few months. We're going to put
together a task force. Preferably of elected officials, at least one from each county that
will meet with our staff and other interested parties to address this particular concern.
Because when we had this problem four years ago, we had no water shortage plan. We
really had to scramble. We now have a water shortage plan. We have a much better idea
of how to approach it and this is going to be one approach that we take with or without
Basin Boards. We think it's appropriate. So those are the three areas that I think we as a
Governing Board feel are the issues that need to be resolved.
To go back in time, our District was formed in 1961 as the local sponsor for the
Four River Basins project which was essentially a flood control project brought about as
the result of extensive damage occurring after Hurricane Donna was through. We
gradually moved into a regulatory agency and we are really a "precedent setter" in that
regard. We moved in the '70s into consumptive use permitting and really until about four
or five years ago, that was the great bulk and thrust of this District-consumptive use
permitting-be it agriculture, industry or public supply. The time that the District spent,
just when I came on the Governing Board five years ago, that was 90 percent of our
efforts. We would spend an extraordinary amount of time, early on. Our District has
changed dramatically in the last four or five years. Some of it because we as a
Governing Board felt that we needed to move and become more responsive to all of
Chapter 373, some of it mandated to us by the Legislature, such as the recently enacted
Agricultural Wetlands Responsibility. Much of it delegated to us by the Department of
Environmental Regulation. I think we've really come of age. We're into stormwater
management, all well drilling jurisdiction, we have a major computer system, we now
have three regional water supply agencies as opposed to one-this has all happened in the
last three to four years.




-3-








Transcript Water and Aiving Resources Subcommittee (continued)



obur years agot both ends of the spectrum, we had no water shortage plan, a
pretty vital item for a regional water management district. If we had a water shortage
and we're having more rather than less because you go back over the last twenty some
years and on the average two of each three years has less than average rainfall. We're
not sure today just what average rainfall really means because it changes so much. But
we had no water shortage plan on that end of the spectrum. On another end we had no
model flood area ordinance. We could utilize ourselves or provide the local government
to reduce the impact of development in flood-prone areas. So at both ends of the
spectrum, we really had no procedure to use. We had concentrated on consumptive use
permitting. We had literally no long-range planning. We didn't even have a planning
eartment. We had no five-year capital budget. We had no annual priorities. We had
no meaningful computer capabilities and those of you that know water management, it's
a very technical, sophisticated art. Some say it is a science-it's a science to a degree,
I'm not sure that there is still more art than science, but we didn't have that. We
literally had punch cards. We had, for example, no real substance of data to back up
decisions that we had historically made on the Green Swamp. Some of you may be
familiar with that process that we're going through and you may get into it tomorrow.
We now have a detailed economic, environmental and engineering area analysis that I
suspect is going to lead us down a much different road than we had planned to take in
years past. I made these points to give you a flavor for what has happened in this part of
the state just in the last four or five years. Some of it is the result of our desire to
become more of a state-of-the-art agency, be more responsive to the public, do it more
effectively and efficiently, and on the other hand a lot of it has just been because of
what is occurring in this state. Ten thousand square miles, approximately three million
people, probably the most balanced of the five water management districts in that we
have much agricultural involvement, we have much phosphate and mining, and we have
obviously a rapidly growing population. So we have all the conflicting interests and
competing parties that anyone could ever look to. This has led us to the decisions that
have caused this controversy. There was no malice-there was concern by us and our
staff as to the direction we were headed in. The problems that we saw were not only
with us today but down the road and it's our desire to anticipate crises rather than have
the crisis come upon us and scramble. That's what we had to do with the last water
shortage that I know many of you were aware of in the early 1980s. We had no game
glan. We do now. We continue to improve our capabilities and that is why we felt that
we needed, as it pertained to Basin Boards, a much greater regional responsibility by the
Governing Board while at the same time preserving the absolute essential need for local



-4-









Transcript Water and Living Resources Subcommittee (continued)



input. I feel that if we continue and I think the Governing Board shares this with me
because your chairman heard, while there were differences expressed last week, there
was a remarkable consistency from the whole spectrum on our Governing Board that
there is a need for a change. If we don't have a change, the way we are structured now
as I outlined it to you, I question the usefulness of the Governing Board because as we
evolve, whether you have six, eight or a dozen Basin Boards where three-quarters of the
taxing capability rests, and as we all know if that's where the money comes from, that's
where the power lies. I question the real need for a regional Governing Board here.
Perhaps, a little long winded, that concludes my remarks. Mr. Chairman, members,
rm open for any questions.


Rep. Jones: Are you saying that the reason for either abolishing or making advisory the
Basin Boards is that it is too cumbersome for your present plans? Is that what I'm
hearing you say?


Mr. Samson: Rep. Jones, I don't know if cumbersome is the right word and perhaps the
initial thoughts of abolishing it were a little precipitous. The structural concerns are
there and the structural concerns, as I said, are in the area of taxing, they're in the area
of overall responsibilities. I personally have no problems in the area that, while the
budgets and millage were done in one fashion, the real involvement by the Basin Board
were in the area of particular local interest and flood control such as the Tampa Bypass
Canal or various secondary drainage projects which have been true throughout the
District. So you might consider it cumbersome in that degree, but it's cumbersome in the
light of where we are today and where we are going. They clearly were not cumbersome
in years past.


Rep. Jones: But they are now.


Mr. Samson: I think, as I said, I don't know what the right word is. I think the structure
is not the structure that we need in the middle '80s moving forward.


Rep. Jones: Is it your intent then to make them advisory?


Mr. Samson: We have no intention. The reason that we did not make a decision other
than to leave them in place was that we felt there had been so much misunderstandings,
certainly the perception that we had done something and hadn't leveled with people, we


-5-








Transcript Water and Living Resources Subcommittee (continued)



felt it was appropriate to leave them in place, let the Legislature take a look, let us have
the kinds of conversation that we're having today, and try to work out a solution that
meets our needs and also meets the needs of others that feel differently. I am not aware
at this time of plans to abolish Basin Boards. We need change.


Rep. Jones: Do you want them to become advisory?


Mr. Samson: I don't know if that's totally necessary either, Rep. Jones. If we resolve
some of these other problems that I outlined, if that is the vehicle that people feel most
comfortable about to provide local input just because they are called Basin Boards
doesn't cause me any great heartache if we can resolve these other problems. My
concern is the structure and where I saw it leading, not what the Basin Boards had
historically done. I think the Basin Boards had historically been a very productive part of
this District.


Rep. Jones: What is this other problem you keep referring to-the fact that they hold up
your funds or what?


Mr. Samson: No. As we move forward and as we see the proper areas of responsibility,
the Governing Board which only has control over one-quarter of a mill is going to be
going past that number. You can just look at the Green Swamp project regardless of
what alternative we take and that is a vital project. You're talking about a substantial
sum of money over a period of time. We have yet to obviously determine what
alternative it is going to be even though there is a staff recommendation. Secondly, we
have yet to determine how we are going to implement it. But we can see with these
regulatory responsibilities that we now have, we can see with these other items that are
on the horizon that we are not going to be able to handle those within our quarter of a
milL


Rep. Jones: You just said then that the problem is that you need access to the entire full
mill and that's basically the problem, if I understood what you said.


Mr. Samson: No, I inferred that we need access to more than we currently have access
to. How much more I think is yet to be determined. I can tell you that a quarter of a
mill is too little. I see no need for our Governing Board at this time or in the foreseeable
future to have access to the full milL



-6-









Transcript Water and Living Resources Subcommittee (continued)





Rep. Jones: But the problem is that the three-quarter allotted to the Basin Boards
prevents you from accomplishing what you want to do.


Mr. Samson: I think that's accurate.


Rep. Jones: So that's why this whole thing was set in motion.


Mr. Samson: I think that is part of it. The other part of it and I'm speaking to what I
have heard, there is another concern and that has to do with where do the regulatory
responsibilities and other responsibilities lie. If I'm not correct in that then that is not a
problem. My understanding was from those I have talked to that there is a difference of
opinion as to who should have the regulatory responsibility, who should have
responsibilities at the Basin level, should the Basin Boards have a responsibility other
than local flood control and local drainage projects and studies and that sort of thing.
Historically, Representatives, I think you know, they have not had any involvement in
that but they have budgeted for that and they have levied the millage for it. They have
provided the funds but they haven't been involved. There's a question that's raised,
should they be involved? We as a Governing Board do not think that is a proper role for
the Basin Boards. We think a regional water management district governing board should
have that responsibility. So I see those, in addition to local input, how that's handled are
the three critical issues that need to be resolved. That's my perception of the issue.


Rep. Jones: I gather then that the Department of Environmental Regulation basically
has the regulatory function and that's being shifted off on the Basin Board. Is that what
I'm hearing?


Mr. Samson: No.


Rep. Jones: What is happening?


Mr. Samson: The Department of Environmental Regulation does have many regulatory
responsibilities. They are delegating many of those responsibilities not only to this
District but to other districts-stormwater management, a variety of them. Also,
historically, the water management districts have had substantive regulatory
responsibility, particularly in water quantity. We are now moving into water quality;


-7-








Transcript Water an a iving Resources Subcommittee (continued)



we're moving into wetlands; we're moving into a variety of areas. So while DER and I
would characterize it as generally they have an overview as a state agency. We work
closely with them and we have some independent regulatory responsibilities that we have
either been legislated or delegated the responsibility to perform.


Rep. Jones: Are we in permitting this to happen, shifting an expense from general
revenue to the local taxpayer and let me elaborate why I ask it. Everytime we shift a
burden from DER which is funded primarily from revenue on to the Basin Boards, we
obviously shifted a general revenue expense onto the local property taxpayer. Are we
accelerating that presently? Is this something that we should resist? You implied that
the local Basin Boards shouldn't be able to address that apparently because they don't
necessarily agree with the District-wide policy I guess, I don't know. If there is a trend
toward more shift to regulatory functions to the Basin Board at the property owners'
expense, then the Legislature is missing a point here in that this subtlety is escaping us.


Mr. Samson: There are multiple questions there, I will try to take them, as best I can
remember; if I miss one let me know.


Rep. Jones: Actually I'm learning from you, let's say.


Mr. Samson: You're in trouble. I think that there is some, and I can only speculate, I'm
not privy, I can tell you what I see is occurring. I say that these responsibilities to the
degree that we didn't already have them under 373 and didn't choose to exercise them-I
think that's the key. Many of these responsibilities we have had but we have not chosen
to exercise and they're not really being shifted to the Basin Boards because the other
water management districts and this water management district, the Governing Board as
the regional water management agency, we have the responsibilities to implement and to
form those policies. In the Department of Environmental Regulation, there are some
responsibilities that are being delegated. Many of those responsibilities, Representative,
were never implemented or never implemented effectively and there are also some that
they are delegating to us that for some period of time they are funding. But I think the
substance of your comments are correct-that to the degree that we take on added
responsibilities, to the degree that we are given added responsibilities, those
responsibilities cost money and they are either going to be funded by the state or by
regional water management districts. I think this comes to a philosophical question. The
people of the state in 1976 passed a constitutional amendment for a variety of options



-8-


--t









Transcript Water and Living Resources Subcommittee (continued)



and we can speculate as to whether they thought we were going to be where we are
today, but they gave us through constitutional amendment the power to levy taxes for
water management related functions. Whether it is a fair tax, whether it should come
out of state revenues, I leave that to the legislators and the executives in Tallahassee. I
say that we have the constitutional power to do that so unless the Legislature wishes to
do that and take that taxing burden on, we are prepared to execute our responsibilities
and that at this juncture is essentially our source of revenue. Now, I hasten to add, that
even today, for example, this budget year we are in now, we levied slightly less than
$17 million of ad valorem taxes. Our total budget was slightly more than $31 million.
You will see that in the Annual Report before you. Even under the game plan under
which we operate, a great portion of our budget revenues even now come from
Tallahassee.


Rep. Jones: I feel personally that your effort to abolish or make advisory the local Basin
Boards reduces my county's representation. We are fortunate enough to have a member
on the District Board and he's doing a good job. With the number of counties in the
District, however, some are not on the Basin Boards and that could happen to Polk
County at some time in the future. Presently, we at least have a voting member on each
Basin Board. If you abolish or made advisory, we have lost representation in my opinion
and it raises the question to me as to the process you're going through. If you proceed
and either abolish or make advisory, to protect ourselves, why shouldn't we elect the
District Board member instead, of leaving it in the appointed process with the taxing
authority in the hands of appointees rather than elected officials.


Mr. Samson: I think it would depend, I personally think given the...If you believe in a
regional water management district, it is very difficult for one individual who is elected
from and I assume you would be talking in effect a single-member district or something
like that as opposed to regional wide. I think it's very difficult for an individual to
concern him or herself with the impact on the region. The Vice Chairman, Mr. Stubbs, I
think has made that point very effectively. He says our concern is not to represent our
own local constituents, but our concern is to protect and preserve the resource in the
region. I'm not sure what the demographics in this region-that if you were the one man
one vote that you would particularly come out all that well.


Rep. Jones: Well, I'm faced with the loss of representation with what you're doing as an
appointed Board. I don't see a great deal of difference. Can you explain to me why I
shouldn't be concerned?


-9-








Transcript Water and Living Resources Subcommittee (continued)





Mr. Samson: Oh, I think you should be concerned, but I think that in your area, I am not
aware generally of any areas, that this District has not been responsive.


Rep. Jones: You're advocating District-wide elections based on what you just described
rather than single-member districts.


Mr. Samson: No, I'm not advocating that at all. I'm just stating that if it were done that
way. No, I think that an appointed Governing Board as I perceive water management is
the preferred approach. Im also not advocating necessarily the abolishing of Basin
Boards or making them advisory. I am saying that we've got to come to a resolution of
what I believe, and what our Governing Board believes, are the key problems. I think
that these can be resolved without necessarily abolishing Basin Boards, and I think as
your chairman sat in on some discussions that has some real potential.


Rep. Jones: Are you familiar with the bill Mr. Smith has introduced?


Mr. Samson: The chairman has not confided in me on that.


Rep. Smith: The bill has not been filed but it's ready for filing.


Rep. Jones: Would it permit the District to make the Basin Boards advisory?


Rep. Smith: Not in my opinion.


Rep. Jones: Would you object to that legislation?


Mr. Samson: I haven't seen the legislation.


Rep. Jones: We're dealing in a concept now and the point is that it would, based on what
he said, prevent you from making them advisory. Would you oppose that?


Mr. Samson: Rep. Jones, I would have to see that in the context of these other
concerns. If we can resolve these other concerns as I said, I have never felt Basin Boards
were per se bad and let me digress for a minute. When I first became Chairman, there
were only two or three Basin Board members out of two or three dozen whose terms had



10 -








Transcript Water and Living Resources Subcommittee (continued)



not expired by at least a year, I felt then that Basin Boards were not being utilized
effectively. It was through my efforts and certain other Governing Board efforts that we
increased the size of Basin Boards in many areas from three to five. We brought them all
up current; we appointed a lot of new faces to those Basin Boards-a lot of individuals
who are vitally interested. It's evident that they are vitally interested because you'll
hear from many of them today. We feel and I felt very strongly, we involved them, not
by statutory requirement, in the Save Our Rivers process for that very reason. We felt
an ad hoc committee with one member from each Basin Board was in a better position to
advise our staff and our Governing Board as to which projects were the best projects to
qualify under Save Our Rivers. I felt very strongly about that and, as I said, that was just
four years ago. This is a rapidly evolving district, I think it is happening state wide,
certainly here. I'm concerned about the structure. I have very strong positive feelings
about local input and I think our track record four years ago and since then will bear that
out. So it's a question of how we resolve these problems, it's not a question of saying we
don't want you Basin Board members, we don't think you provide any beneficial, we don't
think you're any good, because that conflicts with what I and this Governing Board have
done in terms of recommending appointments in the very recent past. I think that kind
of local input is vital. So it's a question of magnitude and how we resolve these other
things getting back to your question. If we could resolve these other items, whether we
had two Basin Boards or a dozen Basin Boards or four Basin Boards, that is not a great
concern to me as these, what I think are, the fundamental issues. I think that a lot of
these other things are what I would call more of a red herring rather than really. the gut
issue that we need to resolve if we're going to be an effective regional water
management entity. I think that's the legislative decision. Are regional water
management districts working, how do we improve upon them, how do we set our agenda
to face what we are going to see in growth management and all these other items you
will be addressing.


Rep. Jones: One other thing. What do you intend to do with Basin Boards if the present
statute as passed remains on the books?


Mr. Samson: Representative, I have no idea. Contrary to popular belief, while I'm
elected Chairman, last time I checked I have one of nine votes and we have a broad
difference of opinion and your chairman heard that difference of opinion this past
Tuesday afternoon. Some of them feel very strongly about one end of the spectrum,
some feel equally as strongly at the other end. I very much want to see it resolved and


11 -








Transcript Water and givingg Resources Subcommittee (contihaed)



worked out where we have an amicable working relationship with the Legislature because
that's what concerned me with what happened last year because that's been flawed and
we're part of that problem.


Rep. Jones: I might could relax and enjoy this whole episode if I knew where you were
going.


Mr. Samson: Where we are going really depends on the action of the Legislature. I don't
know where we are going today. The reason we made the decision we did last July, again
as I said earlier, we felt the clear perception out there was we had pushed legislation
through to allow us to immediately abolish Basin Boards. That, I can tell you from what I
know, is not accurate. We were concerned about other items. The perception was there
that that is what we did. We have left the Basin Boards in place so the Legislature can
wrestle with this issue if we can't reach some conclusion and resolution of the problems
and that was the reason for our discussions Tuesday and I think the main reason for my
desiring to appear before you gentlemen today is to lay out these problems and see if
there isn't some way through Mr. Haben's being on board and given his historic concern
about water. As I recollect even before he was Speaker, he on many occasions stated
that he felt water was one of the key items that this state was going to face and a very
controversial one. We very much, with his efforts, want to proceed to see if we can't
come up with a satisfactory resolution. So, I respond to you by saying that so far as I'm
concerned, I want the slate to be clean and let's go forward and meet these problems and
do our very best to protect your interest, Rep. Jones, and what I perceive to be the
District's interest.


Rep. Jones: For $40,000, you've got to tell that man what he's going to Tallahassee to
do? Now, when will we know what your instructions to him are?


Mr. Samson: He was authorized by our Governing Board last Wednesday to begin
discussions with gentlemen such as yourselves, key staff people and others to get a feel
in this area, areas that we see as critical, are there ways to resolve, what feelings do the
key interested legislators have in these three or four areas. He will come back to us and
discuss with us what flavor he gets. We felt with his history and concern about water and
his intimate knowledge of how the legislative process works and key legislators, that
would be the most effective way to give it our best shot to resolve it. But, Rep. Jones, I
can't tell you, yes, we're going to do a, b, c, d or e, if you don't, do f, g and h. We don't



1z -








Transcript Water and Liviwg Resources Subcommittee continuedl



know. We want to wipe the slate clean and say here are the problems. Let's reason
together and see if we can't come up with a solution that meets what we perceive to
meet our needs and yet protects your constituents.


Rep. Smith: I think maybe at this point for the benefit of the Committee and others,
that we need to make a couple of comments. It is not my intention with this
Subcommittee necessarily to confine our thinking to what may or may not be
controversial in the Southwest Florida Water Management District because some of these
concerns are state wide in scope. For example, we have five water management
districts, none of the five have the same taxing authority. We have two of the five that
have Basin Boards. The St. Johns River Water Management District has Basin Boards.
The statutes clearly say that that Governing Board cannot abolish those Basins that only
the Legislature can abolish those Basins-so we've got a hiatus. Here we've got a
Governing Board that thought they could. Yet we've got established in the statutes that
another district cannot. With the inequity that exists in their taxing authority as it
impacts local areas, the Legislature needs to address this issue, because it has resulted in
certain water management districts being subsidized from general revenue to carry out
functions that the Legislature's mandated where other areas are carrying that burden at
the expense of the local taxpayers. So this issue has become so involved that we've got
to think in terms of what is the legislative responsibility as it relates to the five water
management districts. I think historically we recognize that we couldn't have a single
water management district in Florida because of the hydrologic peculiarities. I think the
structure is sound with five districts, but in the 20-year history in developing that, we
have certain inequities that the Legislature needs to address. Now, the bill that I have
ready to file simply addresses whether or not they can abolish them. I think further you
need to recognize that within existing law, there is nothing in the law that says SWFWMD
has to have eight basins, that's left to the discretion of the Governing Board. Under
existing law, they can reduce that to two, three, four, ten, twenty or whatever the case
might be. If, in their opinion, and I frankly think that's probably something we should
leave to their discretion, because after all they are the Governing Board and if they think
the District could be better handled by four basins, I believe they should have the right to
address that issue. If on the other hand you come back to the basic concept of whether
or not they should have the right abolish them, I take exception there and probably think
this should be a legislative responsibility.
The question of funding regulatory activities which are mandated by the
Legislature and Rep. Jones raised this and think this is a gut, philosophical question that


13 -








Transcript Water and .ving Resources Subcommittee (cont.l .ed)



the Legislature needs to address. Is that more rightfully a responsibility of the state to
fund from general revenue or is it appropriate to in effect mandate that be funded by
local water management districts that have differing taxing authorities and differing
levels of assessment which is used to raise those revenues. So you've got a myriad of
problems and in my opinion associated with a rather hodge podge state policy with
respect to how to do these things. This was precipitated because they make one
interpretation and certain others made another. As you all know, this is in litigation now
as to whether or not they could in fact do what they wanted to do. I believe that I read
that they recognize that that limbo is there and perhaps would like to leave that limbo in
effect until this can be addressed and we can mutually sit down and determine what
should the Legislature do to straighten out all of these areas of concern. I think you
further need to understand that this District some 20-odd years old has in effect
operated within this structure and that certain people have been very much involved, the
philosophy of who pays for what, where the monies are spent, etc., is pretty deep
seated. So, therefore, any sudden change that was proposed to happen would create
natural concern but given appropriate time and dialogue we may be much closer to
having a meeting of minds on what we really should do but that dialogue has never
occurred. So, I would hope this Subcommittee would (1) recognize what we're meeting
here to do and that there are certain things that are peculiar to this District, but our
overall charge has to be state-wide in scope because we cannot as a Legislature continue
to make state-wide mandates and allow this inequity with respect to administrative and
funding responsibilities be a hodge-podge among the five districts. So, I see the
legislative responsibility as one of almost going back to the drawing board and
restructuring. For instance, if it's a consensus of opinion, there should be Basin Boards
(end of tape).


Rep. Shackelford: ...Manatee County right now, we're fixing to build on one of the
biggest cesspools you ever saw because there is no absolute, no direction of drainage in
that area and literally thousands of homes are going in that area. My interest too is what
water management districts, what part are they going to take in drainage. As I look
through the charts, we don't pay much attention to drainage in some of our water
management districts. If we're going to address water management, surface water
management, I think drainage is a big part in supply when all we read about is supply
water. I have one question. Since you say that millage should go along at .75, what
about the eight Basins. Does this concern you? Do you think we need less, more, same,
or what is the Board's concern about the number of Basins you have to deal with?



14-



II I i








Transcript Water and Liviug Resources Subcommittee continuedi





Mr. Samson: I can't speak for the Board on that. I think there is a wide range. I think
our Board feels that the Basins as they are presently constituted which is along surface
water hydrologic boundaries is an anarchism and is not relevant to the 1980s. It was
quite relevant in the 1960s when we were a flood control agency. The point then
becomes how do you restructure them, how do you structure them in such a way that you
retain balanced local input and balanced involvement in an area such as what you
mentioned which is local drainage concerns. Historically, this District has done some of
that. The bulk of that work as I'm sure you well know lies generally with local
government and they haven't always been as involved or as active as they should be. We
have that ability and some of our Basin Boards have been quite involved in that regard.
Most of the time they get involved in it after the fact when local government for
whatever reason hasn't functioned, they feel it's so urgent that they get into it. I agree
with your chairman, I think not just looking at Southwest but looking overall at other
parts of the state and to develop a more consistent water management system and yet at
the same time retaining the differences that are certainly there in the five areas or the
six areas or the four areas, whatever you want to think. But back on our Basin Boards,
for example, the Hillsborough Basin was set up where they have a piece of Polk County,
large piece of Hillsborough County, a piece of Pasco County, and a little squib of
Hernando County. Well, I almost challenge you, Mr. Chairman, to find somebody who
lives in that squib of Hernando County-you'll find rats and squirrels and trees,
something-but they're not there.


Rep. Smith: A number of endangered species. Do we have to realign?


Mr. Samson: I think we have to as a minimum, certainly, realign and consolidate. Im not
sure we need as many Basin Boards as we have today. What we do need we certainly
need a much clearer well understood idea of where the responsibilities fall. I think if we
have that, a lot of these other problems will fall into place.


Rep. Smith: Let me suggest to you that if you pursue the philosophy that we now need to
think regional in nature as opposed to how we thought for 20 years Basin in nature and
we're going to fund it on that scope, there is no justification for the hodge podge lines
we've got. It's an administrative nightmare for property appraisers as an example. If
we're going to change that philosophically, then obviously we should look at realignment
along political boundaries and not hydrologic boundaries. That's one of the things that
we're talking about here. That's deep seated in this.


15 -








Transcript Water and Living Resources Subcommittee (continued)





Rep. Shackelford: Does that bother you?


Mr. Samson: No.


Rep. Smith: It may not bother Mr. Samson but let's face it there is a genuine concern of
people in the northern part of the District since for 20-odd years you've said that the
Basin millage would be used to make improvements within that Basin and only those
property owners directly affected or benefitting from that would pay the cost. So you're
going to make a philosophical departure here. Now let's face it and admit certain things,
people in Sumter County don't really care to pay for something in Pinellas and I'm very
crude in my explanation but that's what we're talking about. Now, if we're going to
change that, then obviously we've got no justification for these hodge podge boundaries
and we should delineate along political boundaries and not have counties split into basins
and even water management districts because we have some counties that are in three
water management districts.


Rep. Shackelford: That's my second point. My concern with some of my district is now
that statutorily we've got four out of nine coming from two counties out of the 16-county
water district. One more and if you break this, total of one mill for Brooksville, I'm
afraid with some of the rest of us, we're going to get the short end of the stick.


Mr. Samson: I can appreciate that and let me respond in this fashion, Rep. Shackelford,
and let me follow up your chairman's comments here. This tends to, at least with this
Governing Board, indicate that we try to look at it regionally in scope as opposed to
along county boundaries. Our thrust and our change of the responsibilities which is part
of what precipitated this litigation, the result of that decision, and you're right, there are
two from Hillsborough and two from Pinellas, the result of that decision was to move the
tax impact from the bulk of the counties in the District and shift them in effect. There
were only three counties that picked up a bit of the burden-Pinellas being the one that
picked up the greatest part. Part of the rationale was that some of the finest
environmentally-sensitive and we considered to be proper projects for land acquisition
lay within the Withlacoochee Basin. One of which you may have read we just acquired
over 4,000 acres there. There is no way that the Withlacoochee Basin with their taxing
capability levying three-quarters of a mill could do the job. We feel this a just cause and
that the same applies in wetlands. The wetlands regulatory responsibility is going to be a


16-








Transcript Water and Living Resources Subcommittee (continued)



pretty heavy number as we get further into it. Pinellas County, the most densely
populated county in the state, doesn't have that much in the way of wetlands over there,
they've got some. If we're a regional water management district, the way we were set up
Pinellas County wouldn't pay much for the wetlands.


Rep. Shackelford: They've already filled theirs in.


Mr. Samson: They're generating a lot of revenues off of it too. They've got the highest
tax base. So the way we felt, if we're a regional water management district, Pinellas
County should pay their fair share, they should pay some portion of acquiring those lands
in our District in the Withlacoochee Basin. Should pay some of the tab in Polk County
and other counties for wetlands. That is our Board's non-elected lay philosophy of
looking at it regional in scope. So on the one hand, you're right, you do run the risk just
because of where the people are that you lose some representation as you know,
Rep. Jones, we've got something like 40 Basin Board members, 12 of them are from
Hillsborough County because of the way the Basins are set up. You run some risk of
losing some representation, but the direction we're headed in now, the counties which can
best afford to pick up the tab, if you come back to where we are now which is the ad
valorem tax picks up the tab, the bulk of it, not state revenue, then those counties that
may not have the most viable projects for acquisition, may not have the wetlands, are
going to pay their fair share. That's the thrust of this regional benefit.


Rep. Smith: Tomorrow we'll get into more detailed discussion as to the lands that
they've acquired to date, where the funding came from, etc.


Rep. Armstrong: This is a throw back to early questions, but nevertheless I feel the need
to hear something on it. You stated that the District needed to have greater access to
the funding than the current one-quarter and there's no question about it that as water as
a commodity becomes more scarce and as development increases, that the technicality
of handling that commodity necessitates a broader view. I will establish, now, clearly in
your mind philosophically, as the Chairman, you must have some parameter for the
management of those access funds. What do you perceive an ultimate access to that full
millage?


Mr. Samson: You mean where should the Governing Board come out as opposed to the
Boards? I think that really depends on what the Legislature or whomever decides are


17 -








Transcript Water and Living Resources Subcommittee (continued)



legitimate Basin Board functions. If you decide they are nominal, then perhaps the
Governi Board, maybe it's three-quarters of a mill, Im just picking that up. If on the
other hand, you feel there are some rather substantive responsibilities, preferably not in
the regulatory area, but perhaps in land acquisition or whatever the case may be, local
drainage where local government isn't doing the job, and you feel Basin Boards should be
involved in, then maybe its fifty-fifty and Im just picking those things out. I'm making
those examples to explain to you why I can't really throw a precise number at you
because it really depends on where the Legislature comes out on what the breakdown on
responsibilities are.


Rep. Armstrong: That's why I used the term "philosophically." Where do you come from
as an individual?


Mr. Samson: Where do I come from as an individual? I think there are very bonafide
responsibilities that whether you do it through a local Basin Board in the area of very
definite local projects; I think there is a need there. The other four water management
districts essentially don't use this. They look at it, they don't make this difference we're
talking about here today. They say we're a regional water management district, and it is
impossible to break down this drainage project or this flood control project and try to tie
it in to just the people who benefit. Even the Tampa Bypass Canal which has been
financed primarily by the Hillsborough River Basin goes all the way up as I explained it
and the benefits of that are to the residents of Temple Terrace, a few hundred yards on
either side of the Hillsborough River, and to some degree the residents of Tampa. Polk
County, to my knowledge, doesn't get a great deal of benefit, Rep. Jones, out of the
Tampa Bypass Canal nor does Pasco County. Then you get to a matter of degree and
where do you break it down. Other districts say you can't, the dog won't hunt that way
and rather than try to tie a Basin down and say we're going to fund this project for this
area and that project for that area. That really doesn't work. We have been legislatively
mandated as a regional water management district and we the Governing Board are to
make these decisions throughout the District and don't worry about funding projects
through Basin Boards. I think that is part of the philosophical and practical issue which is
before us and that's why it may be difficult to get a handle on it.


Rep. Smith: Let me suggest to you that we don't need to try to reach for where we're
going with any given speaker because there are any number of people who would like to
be heard. I want to address your questions but we're going to have many sessions after
today. Keep your questions concise.



18 -








Transcript Water and Living Resources Subcommittee (continued)





Mr. Samson: I'm getting close to being ready to flee, too.


Rep. Armstrong: I think the reason it was important for me personally to hear that is
that I need some sort of guidelines because as rve gone through this, it's apparent to me
that after a number of years on local governmental level that once you take budget from
any structure, it basically becomes advisory. Because it has no money to do anything, so
that is apparently the logic that we're looking at. So once that occurs, once advisory has
occurred, then the Board which is above it, which is the Governing Board, which is
defined under the statutes 373 as to how it is appointed and then on that large basis, then
in fact it would appear with one adjustment occurring on the bottom, do you need an
adjustment on the top to further represent people's rights. That was the point that I
wanted to make because that will be what's done in Tallahassee.


Rep. Jones: I gather from your presentation that the basic reason that you're faced with
this shortage of funds, that you feel the quarter of a mill will prove to be inadequate, is
the acquisition of additional lands. Now, should the Legislature require acquisition of
lands of a major nature such as what you're proposing in the Green Swamp to be funded
by general revenue? So that you don't get in that bind.


Mr. Samson: Rep. Jones, that would partially resolve it obviously. But, the way we're
set up now with our current District-wide capabilities, what you're looking at roughly
between the .20 mill that we levied this year and .25, it's about $3 million. In a 16-
county water management district with the responsibilities that we have and we're going
into, that won't go a long way. So land acquisition is certainly part of it and a big part of
it. If you were to move to fund the regulatory responsibilities out of general revenues,
obviously that would go a much longer way. We are trying to look down the road, say
over the next four or five years, and try to figure on where we will be. And that is why
we wanted to bring this up now as opposed to the day when we have a crisis and we
cannot discharge our responsibilities. So I would say what you mention plus some others,
yes to the degree we get the funding of responsibilities peeled off of us, obviously the
quarter of a mill becomes less of a concern. I keep coming back that that is only part of
the problem. The clear delineation of responsibilities in my judgment is equally
important.





19-








Transcript Water and Living Resources Subcommittee (continued)



Rep. Jones: Are you budgeting by Basin Boards presently as you've done in past years, or
have you ceased to do that?


Mr. Samson: We are not budgeting this year except in the case of taxes because of the
court requirement that we levy those taxes in escrow. Our Governing Board position is
that we're levying much more District millage and we are budgeting (1) as the Governing
Board feels philosophically and our General Counsel feels is consistent with the state
statutes. At the moment, that will be determined in the courts.


Rep. Jones: You have in effect made them advisory already?


Mr. Samson: You and I know that's not accurate. Let me give you a good example,
Rep. Jones. Two of the three Basins in Hillsborough County this year having changed the
arrangement under the Governing Board game plan, two of those three are levying more
taxes, have higher budgets than they had under the old game plan. Reason: because they
have more local projects that they're concerned with. The only reason that the third
Basin isn't in that position is that they happened to finish a very expensive local project
just before the end of our fiscal year. These local projects bounce up and down. If the
Withlacoochee, if they hadn't been set up the way the Governing Board wanted to set it
up, they could not have made the acquisition that we just recently made. So, that is not
correct, it depends on what local projects that particular Basin is involved in. There
were two or three of the local Basins under our scenario that are levying no taxes. That
is because they had no particular projects in the hopper. They also had a substantial
carry forward. You can go back and track the millage by the Basins under the new game
plan or under the old game plan and it will vary dramatically from year to year. They
really are not advisory at this time. They remain intact-the only difference is that we
as a Governing Board are setting the budget and setting the millage with what we think is
philosophically appropriate and what we feel is consistent with Chaper 373. There are
one or two around the state that have a modest difference of opinion. Is that a good
response, Rep. Jones?


Rep. Smith: Thank you, Mr. Samson.


Mr. Samson: Thank you, sir, I appreciate being before you today.


Rep. Smith: Mr. Lambert. Mr. Lambert is a member of the Governing Board.



20 -








Transcript Water and Living Resources Subcommittee (continued)





Mr. Lambert: First, let me introduce myself, I'm Ronald Lambert, Governing Board
member from Wauchula, Florida, located in south-central Florida. Wauchula is the
county seat for the county. Rep. Shackelford, if you won't tell anybody, I'll tell you that
two of his brothers are my brothers-in-law, and 've picked strawberries with Lawrence
and he claims he helped pick them but he just stood by the fire most of the time and just
warmed his pants. But we were raised up together and I appreciate this opportunity to
speak before you this morning. My occupation is citrus and I'm a nurseryman.
rye served on this Governing Board as a member for ten years and six of those
years as treasurer. I've seen many changes in the District in the last ten years, and with
the issuance of the first consumptive use permit, this District became a regulatory
agency. Now, we have been mandated by legislative action to do some of the following
things: collocate with the DER, floodplain management zoning, surface water
management, stormwater runoff, lake levels, Save Our Rivers, wetlands, now we're
talking about growth management. If that's not enough, we have the responsibility of the
maintenance of the Tampa Bypass Canal and all the lands the District has acquired since
1962. If we have to do all these things, one cannot just assume that the funding for all
these programs will fit into a funding structure that is eight or nine years old. We need
some legislative legal clarification and input with our staff to determine the methods as
to the funding and to the role of the District Board and the Basin Boards and our future
in water management programs. I believe that we need to think and consider in the
future possible District and Basin boundary changes. Believing that we can better
address problems that we now have and avoid future problems by some adjustment in
boundaries. This can be accomplished by our staff, the public hearing system and if
necessary, legislative action. I believe that water management has played an important
part in the future of Florida and would like to ask you, please, before you make any
radical changes in legislative action to consider that the Govering Board and Basin Board
has done a good job in water management and with your help hopefully do a better job in
the next ten years. I'm chairman ex officio of the Peace River Basin Board. I wear two
hats. I would like to read you a letter that I wrote when I first found out about the
change in the Basin Board concept. I'd like to read this letter, some of you might have
seen it. Incidentally, this is dated June 9.


The Basin Board concept is older than SWFWMD itself. The formation
of the old Peace River Water Conservation and Drainage District in the early
'50s was a forerunner of our present day Basin Board. That Board was made


21 -








Transcript Water and Living Resources Subcommittee (continued)



up of members from each of the four counties and was able to levy a millage
tax. With the formation of SWFWMD in 1962-63, this Board became the
Peace River Basin Board.
I believe the Peace River Basin Board has been a model Board for water
management. If one would look at its accomplishments over the years, the
value of the Basin concept would be reenforced. There have been several
moves in the last several years relating to Basin Boards, such as increasing
the number of members, realigning the boundaries, consolidation of boards,
discontinuing one board, making new boards, and some last thoughts on having
to do away with the Basin Boards, altogether.
The idea to remove the Basin Boards from the Water Management
District would be a grave error because SWFWMD was founded on the concept
of Basin Boards for local input on identifying projects in dealing with
problems in the Basin of a regional nature. One must consider that the
original task of the Basin Board was to identify projects and levy a tax for the
funding of these projects, always keeping in mind a regional concept. The
cause of some of our problems are as follows: more than 50 percent of the
tax in the Peace River Basin is for regulation of lake levels, wells,
stormwater and now wetlands. This Basin has little or no authority over these
issues. They are fully aware of the problems and continue to be involved in
the funding of these and other projects. This gives the public and the
taxpayers a degree of confidence in this Board whose main thrust has always
been a regional concept, and in most cases without political influence.
I would be very much opposed to any change in the way the Peace River
Basin Board is made up or in its operation. I believe it is a model board and I
can say that its accomplishments speak very highly of the good use of the
taxpayers' dollars.




I have here fourteen pages that Im not going to read to you all, but I'm just going
to hit some brief points on the history of the Peace Basin. In 1963, the first thing done
was that the Board approved an expenditure of $1,800 for aerial mapping on P-1 which
was the first time this was done in the whole District. In 1964, subject to approval by
the Alafia Board, the Peace Basin gave its support to the U. S. Geological Quality Water
Program for the Alafia and Peace Basins. In 1964, the Board requested the District
Board to investigate the feasibility of floodplain zoning in the Peace Basin. In 1964, the



22zz -








Transcript Water and Living Resources Subcommittee (continued)



Board passed a resolution stating that will advance $36,000 to the Corps of Engineers for
the study of the Lowery-Mattie area. All of you are aware the President of the United
States got a letter from that area and the Peace Basin addressed this in 1964. In 1969,
lake levels for Harris, Rochelle, Conine, Smart were established by the Board. In 1969,
water control elevations in Lake Henry were set by the Board. Now, these are all
regulatory. In 1962, this was a first, the contract for aerial mapping in the lower Peace
flood-hazard area was awarded to Abrams, $52,240. In 1973, the staff authorized the
installation of three monitor wells in the Basin. In 1974, staff was directed to
investigate aquifer contamination problems in the Bartow area. In 1975, this is when I
came on and I was a witness to this, the Board approved $20,000 for the QWIP program
and you all know about the Quality of Water Improvement Program. The Peace Basin
was the one instrumental in the entire thing in all the other districts and it's being used
all over the state now. In 1975, the Board authorized Greiner Engineering to inspect ten
water control structures in the Peace Basin. In 1977, a committee was appointed to
select a consultant for the contract for Alligator Creek Salinity Barrier-this is in
Charlotte County-it was constructed and levels were set on that. In 1977, the Board
approved the staff recommendation of maintaining Josephine's actual watershed which
was also regulatory setting of levels. In 1978, we conducted the Ridge Hydrology Study,
this was the first time anybody's ever done anything like this with Geraghty and Miller,
and this proved to be very helpful and it's being used and we continue to do and use this
study. In 1978, cost sharing with U. S. AgriChemicals and the aerial photography of
Haynes Creek and this was the first time it was a joint feature that the Board between
private industry and water management in a mapping program. Im not going to go on
because there are fourteen pages. Im going to leave this with you all to look at it.
I would only say what I said about the Peace Basin. I would hate to see a Basin that
was founded in the 1950s, and dedicated people who have worked in the Peace Basin and
will continue to serve in the Peace Basin to have any changes made except some of these
minor changes. I don't have anything else, you might want to ask some questions.


Rep. Armstrong: Mr. Lambert, since you were the treasurer for six years, with the
exception of growth management and nobody knows what's going to come from that this
session. The other things you mentioned are already on the books. In your estimation, is
the level of funding for the Governing Board appropriate for those responsibilities which
it has?





23 -








Transcript Water and Living Resources Subcommittee (continued)



Mr. Lambert: Yes, but you're going to have to delegate some of the responsibilities to
the Basin that they were doing. I think this bears out what the Basins have capabilities
of doing and what they've done in the past. Let me say that if you do some alignment in
some of these areas, I think you can eliminate some of the problems. By doing this, I
think you will have adequate funding. But I think it needs to be looked at, definitely by
the Legislature because you can't continue to operate a program as old as this on the
same budget as this. I think you need to look at it. I think with the staff and I think
there're legal ramifications in this that ought to be looked at.


Rep. Armstrong: You're saying that, if I read you correctly, that some of the things
which Mr. Samson said regarding the need for additional funding for the Governing Board
can be done by the Basin Boards?


Mr. Lambert: I didn't hear what he said because I came in late. But I assume what you're
talking about is that the Basin Boards have the capabilities of doing lots of things and
have done in the past and this bears this out. Maybe we need to give the Basin Boards
more responsibility. This has been talked about.


Rep. Armstrong: I think this points out the need for specifics. It may be that once those
specifics are put on the table that the appropriate funding place should be general
revenue or with the Basin Boards themselves. So I would hope that between now and
when we get together this spring, that those specifics would be put on the table. And
there might be a way we could come to a conclusion on this.





Mr. Feaster: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Committee, I'm sure I will speak with
prejudice also. First background, I went to work here 19 years ago, April 11, 1966.
There were 50 employees; we were functioning only as a flood control district. At the
invitation of the Chairman 3-1/2 years ago, I left the District after 16 years and most of
the things the District is doing today we were doing then. I don't have any prepared
remarks and last night, as late as midnight, I was not intending to come and so informed
some people yesterday who had asked me to attend. But I said maybe I did have a few
points I'd like to make. I could go on for hours and I know you all are tired, but I want to
say basically in a letter I wrote Mr. Kuhl back in June when I first learned of the action
with the intention of eliminating the Basin Boards. I'll go through this rapidly and then
I1ll go back and expand on some of the points.



24 -








Transcript Water and Living Resources Subcommittee (continued)





Dear Gary:
I was extremely surprised to hear your recommendation for the
elimination of the Basin Boards at the workshop of the Governing Board in
Tampa on June 20. (This letter is dated June 28.) You may not view your
recommendation as eliminating the Basin Boards; however, your proposal to
take away their existing tax authority will indeed eliminate probably 90
percent of the effectiveness of the Basin Boards that has been shown these
past 23 years.
Gary, since my employment at the District over 18 years ago, I have
known so many knowledgeable, intelligent, hard-working, conscientious and
dedicated Basin Board members that I could not stay out of this issue and
stand idly by. It is my opinion that the Basin Boards act as a balance of
power, serve as an excellent management tool, and go a long way toward
keeping the staff on its toes, thereby, improving overall District
effectiveness and efficiency.
Gary, quite frankly, the June 20 meeting appeared to be the first step
of a "railroad" attempt to wipe out the Basin Boards, and I do not accept that
providing "proper" legal notice for the July 5 Governing Board meeting where
final action is planned as an honest attempt at communication to all Basin
Board members and the general public. If an agency truly wants to
communicate openly with all interested parties, it produces news releases for
the news media and, at the same time directly communicates with those
persons known to be interested in the issue. Additionally, an agency would
routinely set that meeting at a future date which would allow adequate time
for interested parties to be made aware of the meeting and to schedule their
calendars accordingly.
My major concern over your proposal to do away with the Basins results
from my personal involvement with almost 100 Basin Board members during
my 15-1/2 years at the District, the last nine as Executive Director. The
point is that many of the past projects, as well as many of the continuing
programs, were suggested by Basin Board members. As I recall, many of
these programs, probably a majority, did not initially meet with strong
Governing Board support, but they were usually passed because of the Basin
Boards' willingness to bite the bullet and assess the taxes to initiate the
program. The key factor in almost all of these cases was that the Governing


25 -








Transcript Water and jiving Resources Subcommittee (continued)



Board members were far removed from the problem and inadequate time was
available at the Board meeting for them to understand the problem. They
only saw the expense involved. But the Basin Board members, by being closer
to the problem and having participated in lengthy discussions of the problem,
looked at the funding required as an investment in an improved quality of
life. Some of these specific projects and programs that come to mind, which
originated within a Basin Board, met initial Governing Board objection, and
yet were finally approved, are as follows:


Funding for the West Coast Regional Water Supply Authority (without the
District's Basins' financial support, I believe that the Authority would have
gone out of existence but maybe it should have)
Peace River/Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority
Sawgrass Lake Environmental Education Center and Flood Control Project
Alligator Creek Flood Control Project
Aerial Mapping
Regional Observation and Monitor Well Program
Quality of Water Improvement Program-Well Plugging
Regulatory District (the first regulation of water resources in the state of
Florida, 1968, four years before there were any other water management
districts in this state).


I'm sure if we reviewed the list of all the program and projects, there would
be a lot more. In fact, there are probably very few that originated at
Governing Board level.
Gary, I guess the point that disappoints me more is to believe that the
staff in such a relatively short period of time, can take such a totally
negative view of the value of the Basin Boards. Of course, I also realize that
in the real world, staff positions may be influenced by Governing Board
members who may not wish to share authority. To be more direct, it is my
opinion that practically none of the previously listed projects and programs
would have become reality without the initiation by members of the Basin
Boards and the use of their tax authority. I feel certain that many of these
projects would have been summarily killed at the initial presentation to the
Governing Board and some of them might not have ever made it to the
Governing Board agenda.



Z6-









Transcript Water and Living Resources Subcommittee (continued)



Another one of my concerns has to do with representation by all
counties within the District. Since there are 16 counties within the District
and two Governing Board members must come from both Pinellas and
Hilllsborough, that leaves only five Governing Board members to come from
the other 14 counties. This means, that without Basin Boards there would be
nine counties having no tax authority representation with the Water
Management District. I believe that if your proposal was honestly, openly and
adequately communicated to all 16 counties of the District that you would
find that most, if not all of them, would object to the proposal.
I'm well aware of the additional responsibilities being mandated upon
water management districts by the Legislature and the increased expenses
that go with it, as well as administrative and political problems in assessing
these charges to the Basin. But there are other ways that the District could
pick up a greater share of the regulatory expenses.
Gary, I apologize that this letter may seem too strong, but after the
meeting on June 20, I realized that I could not live with myself if I did not put
my thoughts and feelings in writing. The common expression today is "if it
ain't broke, don't fix it," and this letter can be summed up in those few words.
I strongly suggest that your recommendation to eliminate the Basin
Boards was improper, ill-conceived, untimely and it should be withdrawn.
Signed Donald R. Feaster, P.E.


Mr. Chairman, going on with a few other comments, I just made a few notes this morning
that have been commented by on others here and I don't want you to lose sight that there
are two issues, two separate, distinct issues. Number one, philosophically should there be
basins-yes or no? As an issue, you can clearly argue both sides. Separate from that is
the process or the procedure that the District was taking to eliminate the Basin Boards.
I think that is a very significant issue that may have far greater reaching impact than the
issue of the Basin Boards itself. Keep those separate. Mr. Samson this morning
commented that the water management district has come of age and he referred to
several items, a shopping list of things, that sounded as though it had come about since
he's been here. I would like to address those as I wrote them down.
Well drilling-he said now we have well drilling. Let me tell you this District back
in about 1969 got involved in well drilling. Dale Twachtmann, my predecessor, he was
Executive Director for six years, had gone to the Legislature year after year after year
saying we need a state well drilling procedure to start getting a handle. He could never


27 -








Transcript Water and Living Resources Subcommittee (continued)



get it out of committee. In 1968 because of problems of a wellfield, we created a
regulatory district and the first thing we did the next year was we created a licensing
procedure-'69. It was three years later when Jack Shreve's committee created the
Water Resources Act of '72. That then said we will create four other water management
districts in the state of Florida and in essence patterned after the Southwest Florida
Water Management District. Very important, we predated-we, this the water
management district-all of the other water management districts, was involved in well
drilling. After the Water Resources Act became implemented, then the state said now
that the other districts are involved in well drilling we will take the licensing to
Tallahassee. Now, recently they've said we're going to give it back to you but there is
nothing new about this District doing that in the past three to four years.
Mr. Samson said there've been three regional water supply authorities created. In
my letter to Gary last June I referred to funding for West Coast Regional Water Supply
Authority. The first discussion I recall regarding a regional water supply authority was
back in about 1970, had a meeting in Tampa at the Causeway Inn called by Chairman Ex
Officio of the Pinellas-Anclote Basin Board-not the Governing Board, the Pinellas-
Anclote Basin Board. You can go to the District's files here and read about 1970 and
you'll see lots of newspaper articles about that suggestion that they need regional water
supply authorities. It was several years later then that Pinellas County, Pasco County,
Hillsborough County and St. Petersburg and Tampa joined together and created the West
Coast Regional Water Supply Authority. The first year they got voluntary funds by the
three counties and two cities and guess what happened the second year? They all said
you have not shown us any track record, we are not going to fund you. I was in
Tallahassee during the Legislative Session, meeting with Senator Guy Spicola, and the
Executive Director of the West Coast Regional Water Supply Authority back 10-12 years
ago. Guy said Don what can we do? I said well our Basins, Basins, Basins, have tax
capability-if the Basins would go along with it, that's a source of seed money. At the
suggestion of Spicola and others, we got together and an approach was made to the Basin
Boards by the West Coast Regional Water Supply Authority and for a couple of years
there was funding, voluntary, coming from the Basin Boards. The Governing Board, as a
group, more or less objecting to the thing-well if the Basin Boards want to use that
money to help that Authority okay. In my letter I did so even though it was my idea, I've
had after thoughts of that because things I have seen happen at that Authority because of
certain things and in my letter I said I believe the Authority would have gone out of
existence and maybe it should have. I quite frankly got mixed emotions on that. To
carry it a step further, Mr. Samson referred to other regional water supply authorities. I



28 -








Transcript Water and Living Resources Subcommittee (continued)



assume he is referring to the Withlacoochee Regional Water Supply Authority, I assume
the other he is referring to is the Manasota Water Supply Authority. Let me tell you
about that. After the Water Resources Act of 1972, each year there were changes-'72,
'73, '74, '75-1975 the constitutional amendment then we were all going to have tax
authority. In 1975 Manatee and Sarasota Counties were brought into the District. If you
had looked at the District's boundaries, SWFWMD totally surrounded those counties-they
weren't involved. Lat Turner, the Governing Board member there, said, Don, we've got
to do something, they don't want to be in SWFWMD, they don't like it, we've got to do
something, what can we do? I said what are the problems? He said they've got water
problems. I said tell them to ask us for money, we can help them to get going on a water
supply study. Over the years that evolved to numerous studies by our Manasota Basin
Board. I was almost fired from the Governing Board because several Governing Board
members did not like it because I took a strong position supporting it. Now there is a
Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority.
Carry it a step further, again, continuing on Mr. Samson's notes. He referred to the
Water Shortage Plan. Zeb Palmer already commented on that. When I heard that this
morning I was sitting in the back of the room and I looked and I saw Zeb and I said gee,
Bruce says he created Planning. Zeb Palmer was the director of it and I look to
somewhere else and where's John Wehle. John Wehle is now Assistant to the Secretary of
the Department of Environmental Regulation-he was in Planning. And Gary, I thought
gee, I think Gary started that week. And they all know what I'm talking about. We
called it Black Tuesday or Black Wednesday-I forget, whichever day. Because of
political reasons, our Governing Board of that day decided it didn't want a Planning
Department and started a very major attack which ends up the Planning Department
getting eliminated. But in the Planning Department we did develop a state water use
plan, we did have a five-year plan. This happens to be a philosophic question that
Mr. Samson and I agree totally and completely on. Unfortunately, the Board I worked for
then did not agree with that position.
Mr. Samson said that the Green Swamp data...that is an issue in and of itself since
you are going to be discussing land acquisition tomorrow and I'U not be here. Number
one, this District had tremendous data on the Green Swamp. There seems to be an issue
today on the table by the District, do they or don't they build a flood control project in
the Green Swamp. Let me tell you back before 1972, the only reason I say 1972, I know I
wan't even Executive Director-I took over in 1972. It was known then that there was no
engineering, economic, hydrologic justification for building anything in the Green
Swamp. Now the past two years, the District spent $150,000 for a consultant to tell


29-








Transcript Water and Living Resources Subcommittee (continued)



them there is no justification for building this in the Green Swamp. That's a separate
issue, but we can go in the files, we can go to the Corps of Engineers-1Z years ago their
report went to the shelf because it showed it's not practical
Mr. Samson went on to refer to the Basins as cumbersome now. Basins are
cumbersome now. Let me tell you a conversation I had back about 1973 with Dennis
Auth. The newly created St. Johns River Water Management District had the Executive
Director discussing Basins. Dennis was the then Executive Director. He called me and
said Don, what's your opinion of Basin Boards? My Governing Board's wanting to know
what to do. I said I'll give you two answers. I'll give you the bureaucrat's answer first-
they're terrible, they're an administrative nightmare. I recall that specific word-they
are an administrative nightmare. Lots of different budgets, lots of meetings. I said let
me tell a taxpayer's answer-it's the best thing that's ever happened to the District. It's
the foundation of the Southwest Florida Water Management District. I told Dennis Auth
this 12 years ago-I continue to say it today. Yes, as Mr. Samson said, they are
cumbersome but with computer, things we had to do manually years ago...if there is a
mess in the budget, the computers crank it right out. Bruce went on to say the
Governing Board needs more dollars. Ten years or so ago, I lose track of years, the
District's budget, the District's part, and I understand in those days we even had more
Basins than they've got today. Somebody referred earlier, we lost our Oklawaha River
Basin in the transfer so that was one less basin we had to deal with. When I started at
the District, all the overhead, in the greatest sense of the word, administration-the
building, the lights, the telephone, Xerox, maintenance-all of those things which were
not specifically done in a Basin were charged to the District, and the District's overhead,
the budget, was growing like mad without any apparent progress at the District because
everything's being done in the Basins. The Governing Board says Don, we've got to do
something, come up with a charge-back system. So this District, I assume it still has it
today, we went to a very extensive situation. Numerous, lengthy meetings of the Board,
how are we going to do it? I said well, number one you've got the area, in some cases the
size of a Basin, determines how much you spend there, sometimes it's how much
population you got in the Basin, sometimes it's the water use in the Basin. So we came
up with a whole bunch of categories. On our finance and accounting, we said how many
transactions, how many financial transactions, and we ran that number on the
computer. In the regulatory area, we said how many permits do we have in an area. So
we came up with all these various procedures of prorating certain charges. So then
instead of all the finance and accounting and all the data processing and all the
maintenance going into the District, we started taking a percentage of that and putting



30-








Transcript Water and Lig Resources Subcommittee (continue ,



it in the Basin budgets. Now that's what's been happening over the years. All they've got
to do if they say they need more money in the District budget is just do more what
they've been doing for the past 15 years anyway.
Next, I refer to the Withlacoochee Board. He says the Governing Board needed the
money to buy the land in the Withlacoochee Basin. Let me tell you something else that
happened years ago. We had a project called, and all these we could go to the maps that
I see haven't changed since I left and created them, but on the maps we've got the
various projects. We had a Cypress Creek Flood Detention Area and we said the
Hillsborough Basin doesn't have money to buy all that, we said let's charge the Pinellas-
Anclote Basin. But we had a law that said the money will be spent for works in the
Basin-"in" the Basin. We went to the Legislature and we said let's change "in" to "of"-
that's all we did and now the law says we can use it for works "of" the Basin. And then
we went to the Pinellas-Anclote Basin Board and we said we've got a Cypress Creek
Flood Detention Area, we want to buy 5,000 acres and it costs so many million dollars,
most of the water from there is going to be coming to the Pinellas County area. It's
logical for you to pay for it and we want you to declare it a work of the Basin and they
did. Now, if there is good reason for the money to be needed in the Withlacoochee area,
to come from some place else, all they've got to do is declare it a works of the Basin-
don't need to wipe out the Basin to do that.
Let's get back to my letter briefly. In my first paragraph, I said you take away
their existing tax authority and you indeed eliminate 90 percent of the effectiveness and
I wrote out in the column "money against power." Somebody else said that. The real
world-when our Basin Boards, we go to the meeting and they said Don, Alafia Basin, we
were needing a very extensive observation well program, it was expensive going out and
getting well drillers, we couldn't get good bids and control them. They said let's buy our
own drill rig. That was a big thing in those days. They said we'll pay for it. We brought
it to the Governing Board and the Governing Board didn't like it, they said we're not well
drillers, we don't want to get in that business. It was a very hard fight and if you went
back and listened to tapes you'd hear some hard arguing. Then they finally get down
after hours of discussion and said well if the Alafia Basin Board thinks they need that
well drilling rig that bad and if they are willing to pay the taxes, okay let's let them go
ahead. Now what happened to that program? Later it ws so well accepted as I said in
the letter, then it went from Alafia and pretty soon became a District project. What
happened beyond that? Then the other districts looked at SWFWMD and said gee look at
that good project. And now other districts have programs that originated in one Basin
that would not have gone if they were advisory and if they'd come up to the Basin Board


31 -








Transcript Water and ring Resources Subcommittee (conti. .d)



and we said we want you the Basin Board to spend your tax dollars, Ill guarantee you that
Regional Observation and Monitor Well Program and that extensive data collection
network would not exist today. Money is power.
In my second paragraph, I refer to the balance of power. I believe Ms. Sistrunk said
something, she used different words, but she was saying the same thing-that balance.
Everything that the Basin Boards wanted to do did not always get approved by the
Governing Board. Some things that might have been shot down, then the Basin Boards
would come up here and we'd have a good interesting meeting, sometimes a very hard
meeting, but usually good decisions would come out of that. The last line in that second
paragraph I said the Basin Boards thereby improve the being of the overall District's
effectiveness and efficiency. As Executive Director for nine years with this District, I
didn't really enjoy going to all those Basins. Try to work for ten Boards, ten budgets.
Some months you've got a meeting everyday while the Legislature is in session expecting
you there too. Yes, its cumbersome. Yes, it's an administrative nightmare. But I can tell
you for a staff member to be down the hall working on a project and walk into the
Executive Director's office and try to get impact of the concern of a Board that's one
thing and hear it second hand from the Executive Director. But there are people in this
room today that I wasn't making the impact on them as an employee of mine and so I said
why don't you go to the Board meeting and make the presentation. You've seen it come
before you. Sometimes it takes somebody other than that staff bureaucrat-in those
days, me or somebody who's working for one of the bureaucracies in Tallahasee-when
they come before you as a committee, maybe it makes a greater impact. It keeps them
on that toe-the effectiveness and efficiency-that's the point on that.
Ms. Martin and Ms. Parsons discussed essentially the points I was making in my
third paragraph when I refer to the railroad attempt. Again, I am very concerned about
the issue of Basin Boards, but Im also concerned about the separate issue of the way it
was handled.
In the second paragraph on the second page, I refer to staff decisions which may be
influenced by Governing Board members. One of the concerns I have, I'm a strong
believer in water management districts and I'm a strong believer in appointed Boards. I
am concerned, however, about the power of the Boards. I saw things happen when I was
here with a different Board-there are only two Board members, actually four, that
continue on this Board that were here when I left. I saw things happen then and I believe
I see things happen now that I personally believe there should be some sort of additional
control. So I believe in the water management districts, I believe in the Governing Board
concept, I believe in an appointed Board as opposed to an elected Board in cases such as



32 -








Transcript Water and Living Resources Subcommittee (continued)



this, but I also see how there needs to be control. I believe the Chairman of the Water
Management District Boards, past and present, wheels too much power. A lot of the
other Board members may be extremely dedicated and put a lot of time into it. Some of
the others, maybe because of job conflicts, maybe don't put as much time but a lot of
things go on at the Board meetings that would be extremely difficult to fully comprehend
the impact of that decision. Just as you get involved in with the Legislature. No way
can each of you know all you need to know about that particular bill. You depend on
somebody else-another legislator, a staff person, you've got to work that way-real
world. But in this particular case, concern about the centralization of that power. I
stress again, it's back to the other point, I believe the proposal should have been honestly
open and adequately comunicated-I don't believe that it was.
Back to the power. I know people, personally, professionally, who know more about
this District than anybody else I know. In some cases, they know as much as I do and
some areas a little bit more. But you will never see them come up here as I am today.
They feel exactly as I do, they are upset about this. Try to guess why they're not here
today? Whoever's attorney who may have to come before this District to represent a
client to get a permit...do you think they're going to be up here when they've got to come
up before this Governing Board-absolutely not. How about engineers, representing
consultants. Look at the hiring of the Water Management District-tremendous power.
What about those engineers who feel maybe even more, but they're not about to come up
and stand here as I am when they may have to come here trying to get a contract worth
$200,000-$400,000 another month. So the power controlled here in a situation cuts out of
participation in a meeting such as this who may know more about the particular situation
that is on the table than anybody else. And they may do as I do and read the newspaper
and may talk to somebody and you may get in a cocktail party but you are not going to
get it standing up here in a situation like this because of the fear of what that power can
do to their livelihood-the real world.
Mr. Chairman, summing up the issues, I could go on all day. Again, I think you
should separate the issues between Basins-yes or no--discussion. But I also think as a
separate thing you should pursue the process, the procedure, the steps that were being
taken to, as appeared to be the case, eliminate the Basins. Relative to the issue of the
dollars, the millage, in my opinion there is no problem. I believe the District has all the
authority they need today to do as we did in the past by administrative procedures.
There is a lot of value judgment about how the charge-backs are done. Again, the
Withlacoochee land acquisition item is allowed in the law, assuming they haven't knocked
that out of the law-I don't believe so-works of the Basin. The second item is the need


33-








Transcript Water and Living Resources Subcommittee (continued)



of the input from Basin Board members, the people that are out there on the firing line,
so to speak, that get the input, they know the problems there. They come in and the
Basin Board will have time to discuss with the staff two, three or four hours. The
Governing Board does not have time to spend two, three or four hours on each of eight
Basins' problems. So the Basin Boards are there, so, if they then say yes there's a
problem, they're in a position to bite the bullet, to assess the taxes, and send it to the
Governing Board.

The power of the Governing Board is a concern of mine. Number one, I think there
should be Basins but if we would get to the point that the Basins are going to be
eliminated, then I believe the Governing Board should be expanded in number. Take a
simplistic approach, double it. What've you done if you double it, you've got 18 members,
you've got 16 counties, and Pinellas and Hillsborough still have room for their extra two-
simplistic approach. I still believe nine members with the Basin Boards, but if you're
going to change it, decentralize that power, give each county their representative and if
there's reason to think those more highly populated counties have something, fine-give
them another. The number is just what happened to come out even in this particular
District.


Rep. Jones: You are directing your remarks primarily toward abolishment or
elimination. What about this hybrid that is the plan "B" position of the District Board.
Would you care to address that?


Mr. Feaster: Quite frankly, Rep. Jones, I am very confused about how that whole issue
comes out. I prefer to keep things as they were before they changed the legislation this
year.


Rep. Jones: I'd have to agree but we've had testimony from the Chairman that Lord
knows, we've made a mistake. We don't want to abolish anything, we want to keep the
Basin Board, but in what form is now the subject. Do you care to address that proposal?


Mr. Feaster: I really would need a better understanding of what exists with that
proposal. I'm really not tuned in to what else is their proposal.


Rep. Jones: Well, it was rather vague when the chair presented it. I thought maybe you
would understand it better.




34-








Transcript Water and Living Resources Subcommittee (continued)



Mr. Feaster: No, like I said, Im very confused about it. That's all I have. Id be pleased
to answer any questions.


Rep. Shackelford Do you see any problems, if you were given, again hypothetically. If
you were given the ability to realign, do away with, add on or what not, any of the eight
Basin Boards in SWFWMD, what changes would you make within the Basin Boards as to
numbers and rearrangement of Basins?


Mr. Feaster: You're referring to just geographical realignment of Basin Boards. The only
way to address that would be to look at maps. There are good reasons. If we're not
talking about administrative alignment, we're talking about geographical alignment. Let
me show something on a map. Talking about Lake Lowery, look at I-4 north of
Lakeland. This is the boundary of St. Johns and Southwest Florida Water Management
Districts. Prior to the St. Johns District being created, this was in Southwest Florida.
When the Legislature carved out the districts, some maps, depending on conditions,
showed that the drainage divide essentially came down through here and flowed north-
depending on the situation, this water can go either direction. It was known then. We
discussed that with St. Johns at the time. It seems logical that we use the interstate. It
seems logical that should remain with us even though the U. S. Geological Survey says
this area is part of the St. Johns boundary. In this case, then the very simple thing if
Polk County, the people concerned, say lets use I-4 that pretty well created a divide that
did not exist. But if you go to a U. S. Geological Survey map, it says this is in the
St. Johns, you might even call it the Withlacoochee Basin, at one point in time, is flowing
north. Now back to the point of Mr. Shackelford, there are cases like this probably if you
look at each Basin, you have to look at a map. A lot of that is there has been
realignment between Alafia Basin and Northwest Hillsborough Basin, between
Hillsborough and Alafia, where it reached a point it wasn't practical to follow a natural
drainage divide, usually we were jumping to use a highway. When we cut the boundary
lines between the District and St. Johns here, this area was our Oklawaha Basin. We
followed the interstate so that's really a more practical line. I say "we"--this was a
suggestion from the Legislature but the District boundaries, of course, were actually
legislated but we were very actively involved in all that.


Rep. Smith: Based on your experience in this point of time, would there be any
insurmountable problems if we followed political boundaries?




35-








Transcript Water and Living Resources Subcommittee (continued)



Mr. Feaster: No, sir.


Rep. Smith: Anyone else who testifies cares to address.that issue, we'd be glad to hear
them on that and that is a possible justification as to why Polk County should be so
divided, what problems would be caused if Polk County was put in one or the other?


Rep. Dantzler: Would you elaborate on the administrative procedures available for
increased dollars to the District? You lost me there.


Mr. Feaster: Let me take a hypothetical case. Let's assume the total District budget is
$10 million, you have a nice round number. When I say let's assume that's the District
and the Basins. Let's assume when we look at that budget, $3 million of that is District
and the other $7 million is Basins. Now that's the type of thing I was talking about $4 or
$5 million but that's the kind of thing I was confronted with years ago. The Governing
Board says why is the District budget so high, we're not hardly doing anything. I said
here is my finance and accounting, here's my maintenance, here's lights, here's overhead,
here's buildings, and they said, golly, the District's budget is getting too high. We're
really doing that in support of the Basins. Isn't it logical and reasonable to charge a
percentage back to the Basins? I said sure. What I'm telling you would be a normal thing
in consulting engineering, a lot of firms go through this type of thing-it doesn't have to
be a governmental agency. So you're trying to assess charges to where the work's done
and so then we said okay, finance and accounting division, so much of our taxes is in this
Basin and so many bills, so then we started taking that whole finance and accounting
budget, instead of being absorbed by the District, we charged it out on percentage to the
Basins. I assume that is still done today, it was done for years, but again there is value
judgments on what you charge back. Sometimes you say it's too hard to cut the pie. I
understand they've got about a $3 million computer budget here. Is that all in the
District? I don't know, maybe that is all in the District today and maybe that is the
reason they need more money and maybe the answer is to charge the computer out in
percentages to the Basins.


Rep. Dantzler: Mr. Kuhl, could you respond to that. Is the District doing that type of
procedure now?


Mr. Kuhl: I think part of the disagreement I would have with Mr. Feaster's approach is
that those types of things are not really spelled out in the statute as something that can


36-









Transcript Water and Living Resources Subcommittee (continued)



be done. I think that's part of the argument, part of the discussion both from a legal
standpoint as well as a procedural one. If you start putting things like computer charges
and administrative costs, allocating those back to Basins, I think that's where we are
right now, trying to determine if that is indeed proper. We don't track a statute as
saying you can do that.


Rep. Dantzler: Assuming that it is proper, is there enough of a differential there to
make up the difference that Mr. Samson seems to think he needs for his new
responsibilities?


Mr. Kuhl: I think that's been what the District has done for some years. In other words
as Mr. Feaster just described it, in other words to offset some of those needs by the
Governing Board per se through the Basin Board budgets. The answer to your question is
no I don't think you can offset all those and follow the statute and come up with the
dollars that Mr. Samson was discussing this morning. That would be my response to your
question.


Rep. Smith: Isn't it a matter, historically speaking, I'm trying to assume here that some
thought must have been given at the time it was determined to in effect divide the pot,
three-quarter/one-quarter. I assume that since everybody pays District taxes because
that one-quarter is assessed across the whole District, whereas Basin taxes are only
assessed within the particular Basin, it would appear to me at that time somebody must
have thought that certain activities covered the District as a whole as justification for
the quarter of a mill. Now, the thing that's peculiar about this particular scenario and
you've heard it referred to, not at any time in the history of this District did the
Governing Board exceed one-half of what they could have raised in funding and then all
of a sudden, there is a supposed need for a lot of additional revenue. Sometime this
afternoon or tomorrow, we have asked for some discussions in that regard because I think
that's confusing us all. Now, we furthermore said to you that we constantly referred to
mandates of the Legislature and rm asking you on behalf of this Subcommittee to keep
that statement in mind as you discuss that need for money and would like for you to
relate to specific mandates that the Legislature has set down that in someone's opinion
would impose this additional need on behalf of the Governing Board-it would in effect
justify looking at the division of that one mill. Do you follow what I'm saying?





37 -








Transcript Water and Living Resources Subcommittee (continued)



Mr. Kuhl: I believe so. If you want some response to the first part of that question, I
believe that is what I was trying to respond to a minute ago here with the idea that the
Basin Boards, as we understand and read the statute, the staff understands it and I guess
again that's what the whole court discussion is about, is that you cannot allocate those
various activities that we just discussed back to the Basin Boards-those administrative
costs which should be held up by the Governing Board. The difference between the .125
mill you've heard discussed earlier today and the movement to the .20 millage factor for
the Governing Board in fact began to encompass those things which are indeed admin-
istrative costs. Now, if you want to see charts on that or the review process we went
through to come to that, we can certainly do it. If you want to do that now, or later.


Rep. Smith: I guess I'm being a little more elementary than that. I don't frankly see any
justifiable reason to break it down to that extent. Is it any more costly for this
headquarters to be here and this staff to be here and to pay the light bill and what not
whether you have two Basins or twenty Basins. This facility's here, those costs are
there. I guess what I'm searching for is why do you need to breakdown allocation of costs
to that extent. I guess is the question I'm asking.


Mr. Kuhl: I think it again comes back to the definitions we're trying to follow from
administrative versus the project type activities that this District's involved in.


Rep. Smith: But in the 20 some odd history of the District, to my knowledge no one had
ever suggested that that was a problem until now. I think that we would like to know
what specific legislative mandates created that scenario so we can know what we pass
down to you so that we can address the overall issue. Is it a state-wide responsibility to
pay for this or should it be on a district basis passed to the local property owners?


Mr. Kuhl: If I can tell you some of those things. I think again you heard quite a
discussion on that this morning. But this last year in '84, the District as a legislative
mandate did pick up stormwater management program as an activity which prior to that
time had been a DER function that was a legislative mandate under the Water Quality
Assurance Act. The wetlands bill that passed this last session is a significant increase in
terms of people to evaluate permits on a surface water basis for the entire District. I'd
have to differ with some of what Mr. Feaster said on the well construction activities.
Again, in fact the Legislature did ask DER to delegate to us and they did that. The
public supply portion of those wells used to be a two-part permit that an applicant would



38-









Transcript Water and Living Resources Subcommittee (continued)



pick up through the District and DER and we did assume that this past year as well. I
think in addition to that it's more the things people see on the horizon as some concerns
when you start looking at the current tax capability of the Governing Board. If you look
at regulatory functions as those things that fall in the Governing Board's purview, now
there is discussion, as I understand it, on phosphate reclamation activities and where that
might be heading in terms of the District's involvement in that particular area of
permitting. You've already heard today a great deal of discussion of growth management
and how much the District is going to be involved in that area. There's been an ongoing
discussion for the last two years with the water management district here, Southwest in
particular, picking up the structure inspections with the phosphate industry-the various
dikes and dams that are in that area. Groundwater quality was mandated in the last
session through the wetlands permitting activity. I think there is one sentence in there
that says the districts will assume that responsibility. I don't know that that has been
dealt with in any fashion except that right now we have a contractual agreement with
DER to begin some of that activity. I think our Board as we went through a number of
these issues in trying to look down the road, in terms of where you would hit that spot,
the break even spot so to speak, on the ad valorem taxes for their administrative
responsibilities felt that was very close.


Rep. Smith: We would also like for you to feel free to be critical of anything that we
have in effect given you, you meaning your staff and the Governing Board feels was
inappropriate for the Legislature to give you that responsibility. Because from a
practical standpoint, if DER didn't delegate, where would DER get the money. We all
know the answer to that.


Mr. Kuhl: Mr. Chairman, I don't know if there is necessarily any criticism that I could
offer except for the timing portion of it. I think that most staff members as well as
Governing Board members agree, that this is the proper place to place those
responsibilities. This last session I think we tried to put in place within a three-month
time frame a major activity-the wetlands bill that passed and in fact did that in a three-
month time frame.


Rep. Smith: If you don't feel that any of those mandates are inappropriate, then feel
free to made suggestions to us as to who should pay for them.





-39-








Transcript Water and Living Resources Subcommittee (continued)



Mr. Kuhl: I could certainly do that as well. Again, and I think I can reflect to some
degree the feeling of our Board in that area, I think they feel the people within the area
that have that particular type of permitting-for example, we're a little bit unique in this
area with the phosphate mining industry. So if phosphate mining reclamation or follow-
up is a need, then perhaps the people in this particular region that have that activity
should be involved in that.


Rep. Smith: Can you very quickly, since this comes to mind, are you proceeding in the
field that with respect to the charging for permits, do you think that is adequate as to
your authority and are you proceeding with that and do you see any problems with that as
a source of income to the District which you heretofore have not had?


Mr. Walker: We identified that as an issue to be solved pending our Chapter 1 rules held
during our last meeting. They have not had any serious discussions that Im aware of at
the Board level. I think one of the problems that exist that we struggled with several
years ago was permitting application fees structure in that public entities are exempt
from paying fees by statute and both of our larger permits require additional staff time.
So the burden of carrying the regulatory program, if you're going to try to fund your
entire regulatory program on applications...


Rep. Smith: So you handle that with impact fees.


Rep. Shackelford: Now that we're talking about this, surface water permitting. Is your
intention as a water management district to actually carry out the permitting process in
all 16 counties from Brooksville?


Mr. Kuhl: No, sir, it is not.


Rep. Shackelford: To use this as an example, how do you intend to administer that?


Mr. Kuhl: For example, you have a sub-district office in Bartow, we also have one in
Tampa. We have just what I would call just the bare bones minimum in Punta Gorda-just
a phone answering service there. But we are trying to set up the ability to deal with our
permitting program in Bartow, as well as Tampa and Punta Gorda, in addition to
Brooksville.




40-









Transcript Water and Living Resources Subcommittee (continue.,



Rep. Shackelford: Let me ask you a question Mr. Kuhl. Wouldn't it make a little
common sense to delegate, just pass on or contract, any way you want to put it, with
local government to delegate all the time anyway. They've got to go through a planning
process, they've got to get permits. Rather than SWFWMD out of Brooksville trying to
run the permitting process in 16 counties, would it make more sense to turn that over to
a local government permitting process?


Mr. Kuhl: Are you talking about the surface water part of it?


Rep. Canady: Yes.


Mr. Kuhl: I don't think that there's any problem with that concept. I think it was pretty
clearly mandated in the legislation that the water management districts would in fact do
the activity.


Rep. Shackelford: I also call your attention to other portions of Chapter 373.084 which
says the District may permit governing bodies of water conservation districts, drainage,
other improvements districts, and federal, state, or local government, authorities or
agencies to operate and maintain the works of the District under conditions which the
Governing Board may deem wise.


Mr. Walker: Mr. Shackelford, that's a more open and close case of the Tampa Bypass
Canal than actually for regulatory responsibilities.


Rep. Shackelford: It don't say that here.


Mr. Walker: That's works of the District. Works of the District is a term at large which
means physical structure.


Rep. Smith: Let me suggest to you that the staff are a our disposal quite obviously. I
want to hear from those who have traveled and we'll have an opportunity for staff and
hold those in abeyance and we'll hear from citizens who have traveled. Gary's going to
be available to us at any time.


Rep. Jones: Are you responsible for advocating abolishment, apparently no one in the
District or on the Board is willing to say that they asked for that?


41 -








Transcript Water ana givingg Resources Subcommittee (continued)





Mr. Kuhl: I will accept responsibility for having put together a summary and a
recommendation in that area. I think that everybody should know if they don't, I serve at
the pleasure of the Governing Board and the input that I receive from the Governing
Board is certainly the way I have to deal with things. But I accept the responsibility for
making the recommendation and proposal to the Governing Board for abolishing the Basin
Boards.


Rep. Jones: Did the mood of the Board instruct you to do that or did the chair instruct
you?


Mr. Kuhl: No, sir, the chair did not nor did a vote of the Board. Individual indications to
me from a majority of the Board members that they wanted to hear such a discussion put
me in the position to do that.







































42 -





University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs