Title: SWFWMD v. Hernando County regarding Watershed Basin Ad Valorem Taxes
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00052095/00001
 Material Information
Title: SWFWMD v. Hernando County regarding Watershed Basin Ad Valorem Taxes
Alternate Title: SWFWMD v. Hernando County. Complaint to declare that SWFWMD may continue to levy District and Watershed Basin Ad Valorem Taxes after the boundaries of the District are changed. July 8, 1975. Answer. Feb. 28, 1975. Handwritten notes.
Physical Description: 13p.
Language: English
Publication Date: July 8, 1975
 Subjects
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
 Notes
General Note: Box 4, Folder 3A ( SOUTH FLORIDA -BOUNDARY CHANGES - WATER MANAGEMENT DISTRICTS ), Item 1
Funding: Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00052095
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







AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE II



COMES NOW the Defendant and as an Affirmative Defense to the

Complaint filed herein by the Plaintiff says:

1. The Plaintiff admits on the face of it Complaint that

any territories added to the current boundaries of the district,

as presently constituted by the Plaintiff, are subject to ad valorem

taxation by the special district only if such ad valorem taxing

power is approved by a referendum of the registered voters within

the territories added to the boundaries of the district as currently

constituted.

2. Consequently, if Plaintiff receives the remedy and the

judicial determination which it prays for in its Complaint, to-wit:

that Plaintiff be decreed and declared to have its present ad valorem

taxing power unimpaired on all property subject to County taxes lo-

cated in territories which were within the Southwest Florida Water

Management District prior to July 1, 1975, then the citizens within

the current boundaries of the Plaintiff will be denied equal protec-

tion under the law as guaranteed under the Constitution of the State

of Florida and the Constitution of the United States of America, in-

asmuch as said citizens will be subject to the ad valorem taxing

powers of the Plaintiff without having approved such taxing power by

referendum, while the citizens to be in the territories to be added

to the Plaintiff are not subject to the ad valorem taxing power of

the Plaintiff without having approved such by referendum, even though

both classes of citizens will be r ceiving the same benefits from the

Plaintiff without exception.

3. Resultantly, such an ad valorem taxing power amounts to an

unconstitutional denial of equal protection under the laws, inasmuch

as the citizens in the district prior to July 1, 1975, are discrim-

inated against by being subject to such tax without having approved

it by referendum,while the citizens in the added territories are not

subject to said ad valorem tax unless such was approved by referendum.

4. The imposition of an ad valorem tax within the existing





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territories of the district, without having such approved by a

referendum of the electors of the territories within the current

boundaries of the district, while other citizens within the same

district after July 1, 1975, would not be subject to the imposition

of such an ad valorem tax without approving the same by a referen-

dum of the electors within the territories to be added to the exist-

ing boundaries of the Plaintiff, would be a denial of substantive

and procedural due process of law, in violation of the Constitution

of the State of Florida and of the Constitution of the United States

of America.


AFFIRMnATIVE DEFENSE III


COMES NOW the Defendant and as an Affirmative Defense to the

Complaint filed herein by the Plaintiff says:

1. To the extent that Plaintiff relies upon the provisions

of Subsection 373.149 and Subsection 373.503(2), F.S., to establish

its taxing power within the existing territories of the district

prior to July 1, 1975, Plaintiff's Complaint for Declaratory Judg-

ment should be entered declaring that Plaintiff does not have the

ad valorem taxing power within said existing territories without a

referendum of the electors within said territories after July 1,

1975, inasmuch as said Subsections are unconstitutional for the fol-

lowing reasons:

(a) By the provisions of Subsection 373.069(3), F.S.,

the Southwest Florida Water Management District has

been substantially changed so as to constitute a

newly-created district within the meaning of Sec-

tion 9(b), Article VII, Revised Constitution of the

State of Florida, and any Statute of the Legislature

seeking to circumvent or avoid the prohibitions con-

tained in said Section 9(b), Article VII, is uncon-

stitutional.

(b) Subsection 373.149 and Subsection 373.503(2), F.S.,

purporting to authorize the levying of ad valorem





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taxes within the territories existing prior to

July 1, 1975, without approval of such levy by a

referendum of the electors within said territories,

are a denial of "equal protection under the law"

to the citizens within the territories existing

prior to July 1, 1975, inasmuch as those citizens

are subject to a tax levy without having approved

such by referendum, while the citizens within the

areas deleted and added to the district on July 1,

1975, are not subject to such tax levy unless they

have approved such by a referendum, even though

they receive the exact same benefits and services

from said district. Such Subsections, in allowing

certain territories to be subject to ad valorem tax

without approval of the electors, while other terri-

tories are subject to ad valorem tax only with the

approval of the electors, authorize a tax which is

on its face discriminatory and, as such, violate the

Florida Constitution and the United States Constitu-

tion provisions prohibiting the denial of substan-

tive and procedural due process of law.

WHEREFORE the Defendant prays that this Court will enter a

Declaratory Judgment decreeing that the Plaintiff, as a special

district, will only have the power of ad valorem taxation within

all areas of the district when such power has been approved by a

referendum of all the electors within the boundaries of said dis-

trict as it exists on July 1, 1975.








] ROBERT BRUCE SNOW
County Attorney
Hernando County, Florida
P. O. Box 67
Brooksville, Florida 33512






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I HEREBY CERTIFY that a copy of the foregoing Answer and

Affirmative Defenses was mailed by regular U. S. Mail on the

"1\ day of February, 1975, to L. M. Blain, of Gibbons, Tucker,

McEwen, Smith, Cofer & Taub, P. O. Box 1363, Tampa, Florida.






ROBER 'B--RUCE SNOW






























































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IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE FIFTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT OF THE STATE
OF FLORIDA IN AND FOR HERNANDO COUNTY, CIVIL ACTION

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA WATER )
MANAGEMENT DISTRICT, a public
corporation, )

Plaintiff, )
vs. ) Case No.

HERNANDO COUNTY, FLORIDA, a )
political subdivision,

Defendant.


COMPLAINT IN ACTION TO DECLARE THAT THE
SOUTHWEST FLORIDA /WATER MANAGEMENT DISTRICT MAY CONTINUE TO
LEVY DISTRICT AND WATERSHED BASIN AD VALOREM TAXES AFTER THE
BOUNDARIES OF THE DISTRICT ARE CHANGED PURSUANT TO SECTION 373.069
(3), FLORIDA STATUTES

Plaintiff, Southwest Florida Water Management District, by

and through its undersigned attorneys, sues Defendant, Hernando

County, and alleges as follows:

1. Plaintiff is a public corporation created by act of

the Legislature and encompasses part or all of 15 counties,

including the entire area within Hernando County.

2. Defendant, Hernando County, is a political subdivision of

the State of Florida and has or claims an interest which may be

affected by the relief sought herein.

3. This is an action broughtunder Chapter 86, Florida

Statutes, for a Declaratory Judgment.

4. .The Plaintiff is entitled to relief against the Defendant

upon the following facts.

(a) Plaintiff was created on July 1, 1961 by act of the

Legislature set forth in Chapter 61-691, Laws of Florida, for the

purpose defined in Chapter 378, Florida Statutes (now Chapter 373,

F.S.) for carrying out and effectuating the provisions of said

chapter as a special, multi-counllty water management district.

(b) On authority of and as directed by Section 5 of such act,

all of the area of tlice District is subdivided int-o water;shelod basins.;

(c) A portion of Ilt:rnalndo Couni.ty lies wi thin tho Hill 1]sboroumil

,ivcr R".nin; anotllr portion of HIcrwn lo County lis wi thin









the Pithlachascotee River Basin; and, the remaining portion of

Hernando County lies within the Withlacoochee Piver Basin.

(d) Annually since 1961 the Plaintiff has levied an
ad valorem tax on all property of the District subject to county

taxes to produce the necessary funds with which the Plaintiff

finances certain authorized activities; the Plaintiff is authorized

to levy such tax not to exceed three tenths mill on the dollar of

assessed value for District purposes.

(e) In addition the Plaintiff is authorized to annually levy,
and has so levied, ad valorem taxes to finance the watershed basin

functions authorized for the respective basins; such tax levy

is authorized not to exceed one mill.

(f) The Plaintiff has received assistance in the form of
grants-in-aid from the Department of Natural Resources of the State

of Florida through an account known as the Water Resources Develop-

ment Account; prior to the current fiscal year such grants have

been limited for use to cover costs allocated to the Plaintiff for

constructing the works of the District, for the acquisition of

lands for water storage areas, and for highway bridge construction;

during the current fiscal year the Plaintiff has also received a

grant from the State of Florida to help defray the cost of adminis-

trative, regulatory and other activities of the Plaintiff; such

grants received have constituted only a small portion of the total

costs expended by Plaintiff in carrying out its water management

activities.

(g) The Plaintiff in the discharge of its duties and responsi-
bilities under applicable law and in the public interest has begun

or assumed responsibility for numerous, far-reaching projects

requiring substantial sums of money including: being a local

sponsor for the federally approved Four River Basins, Florida

Project, including an active acquisition program to secure necessary

water storage lands and rights of way; extensive cooperative programs

with the Unrited States Geological Survey for data collection, tests

and studies; extensive regulatory activities to insure proper

mranagomont and protectJion of the water resources of the area; an

,"xtensiv' mapping program of flood IpronC area: to affordl basic data.








for use in long range government and private planning; and, numerous
other programs relating to the proper management of the water
resources throughout the area, all of which activities require
long range planning and the expenditure of large sums of money.
Untimely termination of such activities would result in a great
waste of public funds and would be very detrimental to the public
interest.

(h) The current budget period for Plaintiff runs through
September 30, 1975.

(i) Revenues received by Plaintiff from ad valorem taxes
constitute the primary source of funds with which the Plaintiff
funds its activities and discharges the responsibilities imposed
upon it by the Legislature and there is no apparent source from
which said funds could be replaced if the Plaintiff were to be
deprived of its capacity to levy District-wide and watershed basin

ad valorem taxes.

(j)- It is the intent of the Legislature that these activities
be continued and expanded by the the respective water management
districts and that Plaintiff's authority to levy ad valorem taxes

not be impaired for those certain areas remaining within Plaintiffs

area. Territories annexed into Plaintiff's area will be subject

to the levy of ad valorem taxes only upon approval of electors

residing in the annexed territory. 373.503 (2), F.S.

(k) The revised Constitution of the State of Florida, provides
that special districts may be authorized by law to levy ad valorem

taxes, but only when approved by vote of electors, S 9 (b), Article
VII. However, Section 15 of Article XII states:

Ad valorem taxing power vested by law. in spcia
districts existing .hen this rev vision_ become e-fcte
l - -ct- ^- sa-- not be abroad by n
herein . [emphasis added]

(1) Plaintiff is, and continuously since July 1, 1961 has
been, a "special district" vested by law with ad valorem taxing

power as contemplated by the provisions of the Constitution referred

to in the proceeding paragraph.

(In) Subsection 373.069 (3), F.S., provjdes t,.lt on July -,
75 ,c o -(of .-int-iff wvi. b_ -h*l"ged :o ,' to dtl]l.te

coartn in r,-< ]cludi. g t^ l Wac 'a- " *iv- Ba- i,, p*art ol t l*









Oklawaha River Basin, and part of the Green Swamp Basin; it

further provides that several areas, including the Manatee and

Sarasota counties, will be' annexed into, and become a part of, the

area encompassed by Plaintiff.

(n) Plaintiff contends, and by this action seeks supporting

judicial decree, that its status as a special district, as

contemplated by the constitution, will not be altered when its

area is reconstituted by the change of its boundaries on July 1, 1975.

(o) After July 1, 1975, Plaintiff's taxing authority will be

exposed to possible challenge on constitutional grounds that it

is. no longer a special district that existed when the Florida

Constitution was revised in 1968; if successful, the challenge

would divest Plaintiff of its authority to levy ad valorem taxes

and deprive it of the ability to raise sufficient revenues with

which to discharge .its responsibilities.

(p) This divestment could not be corrected by future remedial

legislative action because of the constitutional bar set forth

in Section 9, Article VII.

(q) Without supporting judicial decree Plaintiff is in

doubt as to its right to continue to levy ad valorem taxes as

authorized by Chapter 61-691, Laws of Florida, as preserved by

Section 373.503, F.S., after Plaintiff's area is reconstituted

by the change of its boundaries on July 1, 1975, without further

approval of the electors pursuant to 9 (b), Article VII of the

State Constitution.

(r) There is an actual, bona fide, present and practical

need for judicial declaration as to such rights prior to adjourn-

ment of the regular 1975 session of the Legislature so that if

such decree is adverse, the legislature may take such steps as it

deems appropriate toward modifying the provisions of Chapter 373,

F.S., prior to July 1, 1975, preventing such rights from becoming

irretrievably lost.

(s) Defendant, Hornando County, is authorized to perform

acts which are in the common illnterest of the people of the county

and to exercise all powers and pri:i.vilccg.:s not specifically prohi-

bited by law; the people of Hernando CounLty own LiKg property subject

to county t-axes are required to lpay ;ad valorem taxes e; vied ,by










the Plaintiff for district-wide purposes and for the respective

watershed basin purposes.

(t) The ad valorem taxpayers in Hernando County, and Defen-

dant on behalf of such people, have an actual, present and adverse

interest to see that lands within such.county are not unlawfully

taxed and that tax funds derived from such taxation is not

unlawfully spent.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff respectfully requests this Honorable

Court enter a Declaratory Judgment decreeing that the change of

the areas encompassed by the Southwest Florida Water Management

District resulting from the loss of some territories and the

gain of others on July 1, 1975:

1. Will not terminate the status and existence of Plaintiff

as a special district which was vested with ad valorem taxing power

on the date the 1968 Florida Constitution became effective; and

2. Will not impair the authority of Plaintiff to continue

annually to levy ad valorem taxes up to one (1) mill'for watershed

basin purposes and up to three-tenths (3/10) mill for District

purposes, as authorized by law, on all property subject to county

taxes located in territories which were within the Southwest Florida

Water Management District prior to July 1, 1975 and which remain

within the District after such date.

Dated this ..day of January, 1 .




//L/M. Blain of
Gibbons, Tucker, McEwen,
Smith, Cofer & Taub
P. O. Box 1363
Tampa, Florida 33512
Attorney for Petitioner












IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE
FIFTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT IN AND
FOR HERNANDO COUNTY, FLORIDA

CASE NO.


SOUTHWEST FLORIDA WATER MANAGEMENT
DISTRICT, a public corporation,

Plaintiff,

VS.

HERNANDO COUNTY, FLORIDA, a
political subdivision, :

Defendant. :




ANSWER


COMES NOW the Defendant, HERNANDO COUNTY, FLORIDA, a political

subdivision, by and through its undersigned attorney, and Answers

the Complaint filed herein by Plaintiff and says:

1. Admitted.

2. Admitted.

3. Admitted.

4. (a) Admitted.

(b) Admitted.

(c) Admitted.

(d) Admitted.

(e) Admitted.

(f) Defendant is without knowledge.

(g) Defendant is without knowledge.

(h) Admitted.

(i) Defendant is without knowledge.

(j) Defendant is without knowledge.

(k) Admitted.

(1) Defendant is without knowledge.

(m) Admitted.

(n) Defendant specifically denies that Plaintiff's status

as a special district, as contemplated by the consti-

tion, will not be altered when its area is reconstituted












by the change of its boundaries on July 1, 1975.

Defendant specifically alleges that the Plaintiff

will not be such a district existing when the 1968

Florida Constitution became effective that shall

not have its ad valorem taxing power abrogated as

provided in Sec. 9(b), Article VII of the Constitu-

tion of the State of Florida.

(o) Admitted.

(p) Defendant is without knowledge.

(q) Defendant is without knowledge.

(r) Denied.

(s) Admitted.

(t) Admitted.


AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE I


COMES NOW the Defendant and as an Affirmative Defense to the

Complaint filed herein by the Plaintiff says:

1. Pursuant to the provisions of Subsection 373.069(3), F.S.,

the boundaries of the Plaintiff will be changed so as to delete cer-

tain areas, including the Waccasassa River Basin, part of the Oklawaha

River Basin, and part of the Green Swamp Basin; it further provides

that several areas, including the Manatee and Sarasota Counties, will

be annexed into, and become a part of, the area presently encompassed

by Plaintiff.

2. Said change of boundaries to said wide-spread degree in

effect creates a new special district totally and completely separate

from that certain special district which Plaintiff existed as prior

to July 1, 1975.

3. Consequently, the provisions of the revised Constitution

of the State of Florida contained in 9(b), Article VII, operate so

as to preclude said Plaintiff as a special district from having the

power of ad valorem taxation within the district, unless such has

been approved by a referendum of all the registered voters within

the boundaries of said newly-created district.





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