Title: Letter from Harmon W. Shields re transfer of territories
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00052109/00001
 Material Information
Title: Letter from Harmon W. Shields re transfer of territories
Alternate Title: Letter from Harmon W. Shields, Executive Director, Florida Dept. of Natural Resources to South Beaches Executive Council re transfer of territories among the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control District, SWFWMD and SJRWMD, referring to a study rela
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Language: English
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
Funding: Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
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Bibliographic ID: UF00052109
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
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Full Text

Mr, Warren Hyten
Page Four
February 28, 1975

Again, thank you for forwarding this correspondence to me and I hope that
this will help to explain our position and the dilemma we face in for-
mulating a good recommendation for consideration.

Harmon W. Shields
Executive Director


Mr. Warren Hyten
Page Three
February 28, 1975

In the staff study it is indicated that there is no objection to the transfer
of the Upper Basin. This is essentially correct. The Central and Southern
Florida Flood Control District has no objection to transferring the Upper
Basin to the St. Johns River Water Management District, as long as the
responsibilities and authorities go with, and are accepted in full by, that
District. The concern of the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control
District is that, along with changing the boundaries, the management respon-
sibility of the St. Johns River Water Management District include the
responsibilities for maintaining and operating any federal or state projects
that are included with the transfer. Mr, Lawton's general discussion seems
fairly accurate, but I must take exception to the major criticism of the
Department of Natural Resources when, in fact, we have been deeply con-
cerned that this transfer take place as mandated by the Legislature. Since
the appointment of the Governing Boards in the fall of 1973, the staffs of
the Department and the Districts have attempted, by numerous meetings and
exchanges of letters, to find solutions to the problems associated with
the transfer of territories and responsibilities among the Districts.
Expediting the transfer is not an acceptable solution to the problem unless
this takes into full consideration the best interest of the management of
the water and related land resources of the State.

We held a meeting on February 24, 1975, in Tallahassee, with the Water
Management Districts. Unfortunately, the St. Johns River Water Management
District was not represented. Mr. Dennis Auth, Executive Director, tele-
phoned me only a few minutes before the meeting to advise me that he was
ill with an injured neck and would not be present. He further advised me
that there would be no one present to represent the St. Johns River Water
Management District. I asked him if he, the Chairman of his Board, and
other members of his Board, would come to Tallahassee as soon as arrange-
ments could be made, to discuss with my staff and me the problems concerning
the transfer. I look forward to this meeting.

We had a good meeting on February 24, 1975, and I feel that we are in a
much better position to make a soundly reasoned reconmendation to the
Legislative leadership relative to the transfer. As I am sure you rec-
ognize, the final decision is not mine, but that of the Legislature.
I cannot comment at this time on your criticism of the operation of the
Melbourne field station. The situation you describe will be brought to
the attention of the Executive Director of the Central and Southern Florida
Flood Control District. If, in fact, they are operating on an expanded
budget above their needs, then I am sure the Central and Southern Florida
Flood Control District will cooperate by such adjustments as are needed
for this field station. Budget hearings are held for the operation of
the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control District by the Board of
Directors at least three (3) times each year, in April, May and June,
to acquaint the general public and the taxpayers with the operations and
requirements of the District.

Mr. Warren Hyten
Page Two
February 28, 1975

shall continue to exercise the taxing power authorized by previous Legislation
within the territories they presently manage. However, it has been called
to our attention that changes in the boundaries as approved by the 1973
Legislature might be considered as reconstituting the districts. Attorneys
advise me that this could cause conflicts with the Constitution which would
negate this ability to levy ad valorem taxes by these two established Districts.
As you recognize, with the present state of the economy, it is essential to
the proper management of the water and related land resources that this
ability to levy ad valorem taxes be continued.

I can easily recognize your impatience with efforts to have these boundaries
re-established since I share this feeling. However, I also feel a very
heavy responsibility to the people of the State to assure that our water
resources are properly protected. I do not agree with the charge that de-
laying action on this change in boundaries will be followed by future delays.
If a decision is reached by the Legislature that a delay is appropriate, I
feel that any delay would only be for good reason.

It is alleged that we have not tried to expedite a court decision which
would answer the fundamental question as to whether or not the districts'
authority to levy ad valorem taxes would be jeopardized by the boundary
changes. The Central and Southern Florida Flood Control District did
not enter the suit as indicated at the meeting on January 22, 1975. However,
the Southwest Florida Water Management District entered the suit in Hernando
County and I have no reason to believe this is not being processed as
rapidly as can reasonably be expected. I am advised by knowledgeable
attorneys that it is necessary that the Supreme Court render a decision
on this action in order that we can be assured that the existing districts
retain their ability to levy ad valorem taxes. This I am also assured cannot
be accomplished in time for any required action by the impending session of
the Legislature.

It is my judgement that the only chance we have to secure the authority to
provide some of the financing for all the water management districts through
the levy of a District or State-wide tax is to conduct a referendum in the
fall to change the Constitution to provide for such tax purposes. Discussions
with members of the governing Boards of the three northern districts lead me
to conclude that separate referendums for each of the Districts would fail.
A change to the Constitution would require the support of such organizations
as you represent in a publicity program which would explain to the people
of the State the necessity of properly managing our water resources.

I fully recognize the desirability of having the St. Johns River Water
Management District managed on the hydrologic boundaries established by
the Act. I would think that we could, without changing the boundaries,
work out certain inter-agency agreements among the Governing Boards of
the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control District, the Southwest
Florida and St. Johns Water FManagement Districts which would provide for
the proper management of the water resources of the St. Johns River with-
out officially changing the boundaries until a future prescribed date.

' ___ .. *

State of Florida Secetay-.oaSt
K K USecretary of State
"Co W ,-E Attorney General
Commissioner of Agriculture
Executive Director Commissioner of Education
February 28, 1975

Mr. Warren rHyten
South feaches Executive Council
199 Sand Pina Road
Indialantic, Florida 32903

Dear Hr. ityten:

I have received and made a rather thorough review of your February 17, 1975,
letter with reference to the transfer of territories anonn the Central and
Southern Florida Flood Control District, the Southwest Florida rater 'tIae-
ment District and the St. Johns River Water iananerennt District. I appre-
date the opportunity to review the enclosed study relative to the transfer
of the Upper St. Johns River Basin, written by Tom Lawton.

The statement of thep problem by 1r. Lawton does not appear to portray the
total problem. His statement reads:

"Problem: Lack of progress toward transferring the Upper St. Johns
PEsin from the Central and Scuthern Florida Flood Control District
(FCO) to the St. Johns Pivor .hter "anaacnent district (WI0), as
directed by Chapter 373, Florida Statutes."

I would state the problem in a somewhat different manner, as follows:

"Problem: To provide for the transfer of areas, as required by changes
to the boundaries of four of the five water ranaaqer.nt districts, on
July 1, 1975, without substantially adversely affecting the ability of
the water mananprrent districts to perform their function of managing
the water and related land resources of the State."

1 believe you will find these two statements of the problem to be quite
different. The significant difference is ry concern that the water manaqe-
nent districts be catPile of continuing to function effectively following
the transfer of territories. Thus, I must be very careful in taking pre-
cipitous action which might obviate the ability of theso districts to
perform their w\ter ranancrment role as Intended by the Leoislature. In
this connection, we have found that there are problens that we were unable
to foresoe. As stated in the enclosure to your letter, Chapter 373, Florida
Statutes, indicates that the tw'o Districts (the Central and Southern Florida
Flood Control District and the Southwest Florida rater {enageicnt District)


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