Title: Memorandum to SWFWMD Legislative Delegation from Gail Parsons
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00051974/00001
 Material Information
Title: Memorandum to SWFWMD Legislative Delegation from Gail Parsons
Alternate Title: Memorandum to SWFWMD Legislative Delegation from Gail Parsons, Member, Northwest Hillsborough Basin Board re: Basin Boards of SWFWMD and legislative action
Physical Description: 3p.
Language: English
Publication Date: July 6, 1984
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
General Note: Box 4, Folder 1 ( SF BASIN BOARD CONCEPT ), Item 58
Funding: Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00051974
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

July 6, 1984

TO: SWFWMD Legislative Delegation

FROM: Gail Parsons, Member, Northwest Hillsborough
Basin Board


On May 31, 1984 CS for CS for SB 1040 and 788 was passed by 104
members of the House of Representatives. In taking this action
twelve amendments were made to Chapter 373 AND SS 5, 6, 7(2), 8
and 9 of Chapter 61-691 were repealed (see enclosure). To repeal
these subsections was to tear out the heart and guts of SWFWMD's
original enabling legislation leaving only a skeleton of a law
that defines the purpose and delineates the boundaries (2 of 7
pages), organizes the district governing board and provides for
district work (1/2 page of 7) with the final six sections relating
to "effective date of act," "adequate public notice," etc. If the
intent of the May 31st action was really "housekeeping" why not
repeal Sections 2, 3, and 4 and bring all of 61-691 "into
conformance" with Chapter 373 and the rest of the state.

I submit to you that the hidden intent of repealing SS 5, 6, 7(2),
8, and 9 was to give the SWFWMD Governing Board the power to
abolish basin boards, take away their taxing authority, and then
set up a perfunctory advisory board (see enclosure).

On June 8, barely one week after the legislature had acted, a
notice was sent to the Administrative Weekly and a select mailing
list (excluding the 42 basin board members) that the governing
board would be meeting on June 20. At that June 20th meeting, with
four governing board members present, staff presented a schedule
for implementing the wetlands protection act, reported on the
status of the FY '85 budget, and recommended that the governing
board "abolish current basin boards."

It was announced at the June 20th meeting that the governing board
would meet again on July 5, and at that time could vote on the
proposal to take away the basin board's taxing authority.

Enclosed are reactions to the above scenario from a governing
board member, a former executive director, and a few basin board

At the July 5 meeting at which ninety people were in attendance
including six House Representatives and one Senator, the over-
whelming public reaction was against the proposed recommendation
of abolishing Basin Boards.

Some of the arguments as presented by the executive director for
abolishing the present basin board structure, are:

clarity of basin board role
inequity in distribution of taxes
more and more district-wide projects
high level of staff and governing board time spent
on basin board matters

Now to address each of the above arguments:

Clarity of role Representative Jones, at the July 5
meeting asked if the governing board had attempted to clarify
roles prior to legislative session. Six months prior to this past
legislative session nearly one-half of the basin board members
had expressed an interest in a basin board conference to clarify
roles and educate ourselves as to the intent of Chapters 373 and
61-691. The intent was to invite legislators to participate in
this conference. An ad hoc committee of basin board members even
met with some governing board members at the January 10, 1984
governing board workshop to discuss with them the proposal for
such a conference (see enclosure).

Following the discussion on a conference the governing board
chairman had these comments, "You know, I consider the basin
boards advisory," and in the next breath "in the next few months
Steve Walker will be developing a policy on basin boards." At a
February basin board meeting the executive director personally
told me that if I wanted a conference on basin boards I would have
to do it myself.

Inequity of tax distribution If you believe that tax
distribution is inequitable now, wait until the governing board
levies one tax districtwide and Hardee County has to contribute
to Hillsborough River basin's nearly two million dollar debt
service on the Tampa By-Pass Canal, etc.

Of the 62 projects (excluding general government) on the fiscal
year '85 spread sheet, 54% are strictly basin projects. Eight
percent are strictly district projects, and the remaining 38% the
district and basins share in the cost on an equitable basis.


Inefficient This is a comment leveled at every govern-
ment agency and business.

Districtwide projects Many of. the districtwide projects
came about on the initiative of a local basin board. Over the
years we have always shared the cost of districtwide projects
according to how these projects affect each basin. For example,
in fiscal year 1985, the Peace River Basin will budget $549,600
for groundwater permitting, the district is budgeting $254,805,
and my basin, is budgeting $183,574.

High level of staff and governing board involvement -
This one argument may very well be the key to explaining where we
are today. The high level of staff involvement is a valid

But if the governing board thinks they spend too much time on
local basin matters its only because they have made a conscious
choice to become more involved than need be. That high level of
involvement has come about because some basin boards have made
decisions which the governing board is philosophically opposed
to. Then this scenario develops: the issue is given to some
governing board committee and four or five months later we have
a new "de facto" policy handed down that further erodes basin
board morale and more importantly has once again usurped basin
board authority.

I will remind you that Chapter 373 clearly states that "basins
shall be under the control of basin boards," and that basin
boards shall "administer the affairs of the basin."

If basin boards are abolished and an advisory committee is then
set in place before the ink is dry on the new rule, the wheels will
be set in motion to jettison local projects altogether. We must
not forget that the major reason SWFWMD came into existence over
twenty years ago was because the counties were either unable or
unwilling to deal with the flood problems of 1960-1961. We have
in SWFWMD a highly trained and technical staff whose only focus
is water. I submit to you that because we are so focused with over
twenty years of historical precedence we can deal much more
effectively and efficiently with local water problems than the
counties can.

I think Representative Shackleford summed up the case presented
against the basin boards most succintly when he said to the
executive director, "If you were on trial and this was your
evidence against basin boards, they would stand acquitted."
I would be anxious to know how you feel about the events which have


Gail Parsons

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