THE TAMPA TRIBUNE
Tuesday, January 15, 1985 .
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Sti D istricta have ugested then most counties the district
overThe potactics ca battle that erupted
From PaF e IB Florida Water Management Dstrct s one of several
water nunagement Lnues lrg ts e Leguoture u
had to pay that much more this year since both sides set year, mad subcommntte g W LucgL Smith,
An attempt by the Southwest budgets that overlap. DBrookte.
Florida Water Management Don easer, former executive director of te Smth sad that the subcommee also pla to exam
water management district, read the subcommittee a ine the wide difference In maximum tax rates that can
District to eliminate the eight letter he wrote to current executive director Gary Kubl be levied by each of te state's five water manateme
last June which blasted his proposal to eliminate basin districts from .05 mills by the Northwest Flonae
basin boards drew the most oar Water Management District to 1.0 miles by the Southwes
"Criticism. "Many of the past projects as well as continuing pro- Florida Water Management D
grams were suggested by basin boards," Feaster said, every $1,000 of non-exempt aesed property.
claiming that many of those programs may not have The Legislature also needs to determine If water
B) DAN BERNSTEIN been passed by the district without impetus from the management projects which nn e at
Tribune Staff Writer basin boards from digging a canal to acquiring swamp land sound
Other residents said that if basin boards were abol- be funded by property taxes or through the state's en-
BROOKSVILLE The Southwest Florda Water wished, or reduced to advisory boards as some district of- eral revenue fund, Smith atro
Management Distnct came under sharp criticism before
a state House subcommittee Monday for its attempt last
summer to abolish the eight local basin boards within Its
The criticism came from several fronts: from mem-
bers of the basin boards, from members of the subcom-
mittee, from the district's former executive director,
and from other citizens in the 16-county district.
Some of the harshest words were reserved for the
way in which the elimination of the basin boards was at-
tempted, through a bill which lawmakers said they were
told was to streamline administrative procedures.
"Were we had? Were some governing board mem-
bers had? Were you had'" asked Gail Parsons of the
Northwest Hillsborough Basin Board. "How are you
going to address the problem of public credibility?"
Her words were echoed by Linda Martin of the Key-
stone Park Civic Association in Hillsborough County.
"The public feels the whole idea of a change was
done behind the scenes and sneaked through legislators
like you," Linda Martin told the Water and Living Re-
sources Subcommittee of the House Natural Resources
While the water management district and the basin
boards were both created in 1961, the responsibilities
for water regulation and control clearly have shifted
over the years to the water management district
Last year, for example, the Legislature passed a bill
giving the district responsibility for issuing permits to
farmers whose alteration of the land affects natural sur-
face water patterns. In the past, that authority rested
with the state Department of Environmental Regulation.
Meanwhile, the basin boards have experienced
diminished authority, from regulation of lake levels to
issuing water consumption permits.
This shift in regulatory responsibility, along with the
recent population explosion in water-poor coastal coun-
ties, seems to have created a situation that often pits
urban interests against rural interests.
Bruce Sampson, chairman of the water management
dItricts nlia- iber governing board, began the day-
long hearing by denying that the district had any secret
plan to abolish the basin boards
"We sincerely regret the obvious misunderstanding
that existed as a result of that legislation passed last ses-
sion," Sampson said.
He said the district doesn't favor doing away with the
basin boards but rather seeks to change the law that al-
lows each basin board to assess up to three times more
in property taxes than the district within each basin.
That funding formula is at the heart of a lawsuit filed
against the water management district after it slashed
the budgets of the basin boards from 16 percent to 96
percent following the unsuccessful attempt to abolish
At stake in the lawsuit is $7.3 million in
taxpayers'money Property owners in the district have