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If Booth's ruling means that the
Legal fight tax notice have to be printed afte
the nw water-management tax rate
at- Sw ift ud comes in, then the process could be
delayed for two weeks or more,
m eight delay Schultz said."If the judge's decision
is upheld, every city will have to
tax notices reschedule its budget hearings,"
tax^ nIU O ~whose dates and locations are
printed on the tax bill, he said.
By JACK REED And that delay on the proposed-
StP rTime Staff Writer tax notices could delay the printing
"CLEARWATER An obscure and mailing of final tax bills in No-
legal squabble over water-manage- member. Late bills mean late taxes
ment taxes could keep Pinellas prop- and "for every week tax bills don't go
erty tax notices from being mailed out there is a sizable interest income
out on time, a county official said loss to the taxing authority," Schultz
And that could end up costing Also, a reprinting of the tax bills
local government plenty of money, could cost up to $160,000, he said.
said Ron Schultz, Pinellas' property "Obviously, if it is stopped and we /
appraiser. must redo it, I would ask the courts \
Each year, state law requires the to have Swiftmud pay for it," Schultz
county to mail taxpayers a so-called said.
TRIM (Truth In Millage) notice that Schultz referred the problem to
tells property owners how much their the county attorney's office, which
taxes will be next year if proposed was trying to get a copy of the judge's
city and county budgets are ap- order by today. Booth was out of his
proved. Schultz started printing the Bushnell office Wednesday and
notices this week, and they are sched- could not be reached for comment,
uled to be mailed Aug. 10, he said. and attorneys with Swiftmud failed
But after Schultz heard about a to return a reporter's call.
court hearing Tuesday in Hernando
County circuit court, he said, "I just
called data processing and told them
to stop printing."
:The legal matter involves a suit
filed against the Southwest Florida N t*e on
Water Management District (con- No action taken on request to
only known as Swiftmud), a state
agency that handles water andde ar-w t b r
flood-control issues in a16-county pro ide lawyer for water oar
area that includes Pinellas County.
Swiftmud taxes property in those The governing board of the board and they do not have the right
counties to operate its programs, and Southwest Florida Water Manage- to sue or be sued by the board of
its tax plans are included in the tax ment District on Wednesday de- governors. Northwest Hillsborough
notice lined to take any action on a re- members felt otherwise and sought
But three counties, Hernando, quest by the Northwest Hillsborough to have the board of governors ask
Haidee and DeSoto, and some pri- Basin Board to provide a separate Florida Attorney General Jim Smith
vat groups are suing Swiftmud to attorney for the local water group. for a legal opinion.
keep it from taking certain decisions The basin board is involved in No motion was made on the
away from local water basinboard& litigation with several county com- basin board's behalf.
Swiftmud to handle localrds work witer-man missions and citrus industry officials Had the governing board author-
agement problems and decide how to stop the board of governor's from ized the hiring of a separate attor-
some of the tax money is spent. The changing its taxing structure to ney, though, the salary money would
local boards got a boost Tuesday. drastically reduce basin board budg- have come from the basin board's
After a hearing in Brooksville, ets. budget. But, the salary check would
Circuit Judge John W. Booth or- Steve Walker, the district's gen- have required approval and signa-
dered that Swiftmud tax bills not be eral counsel, advised that basin ture by the governing board, Walker
mailed out until the local water boards are "sub-sets" of the main said.
boards submit their own tax rates to
property appraisers in each of the .
It was not clear to any of the
officials reached Wednesday how the
ruling would affect the amount of
taxes levied by Swiftmud and the
local water boards.
The billing problem arises be.
cause water district taxes are printed
on the same form that announces
proposed county and city taxes as