I get on with the job. There is some sound logic that the beneficiaries of these
programs are the people paying the taxes. But, by the same token, those people
who benefit from these taxes are also the people contributing the major share
Sof the state's revenue for the state's programs.
In regard to the final question, "Is the current state budget process
Ifor funding water management districts working?", let me say that the water
management districts' work, and the work on water resources, is going forward.
From the point of view of some of us in water management districts and from the
perspective of the local taxpayer, the budget process is not working as well as
it would if the state were to pay a larger share of the burden.
I I have gone back and looked at the funding history of water management
since 1949, looking to see if there are any particular things that might have
influenced it, like during the year that Herb Morgan was elected, and when W.D.
Childers came to Tallahassee, and some of these were significant. I have a
chart that I would like to use. What I wanted you to see is that in 1949, when
: I I
s poopooo -WATER MANAGEMENT DISTRICTS _
STATE FUNDING I
\ pO SOURCE: MR. BLAIN I I
vapoopoo ---------- A\---
and then it rocked along at the $3,000,000 level. Then the Southwest Florida
Si m i O A
6950 19 I960 198C 1970 1975 I980
the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control District was created, the
Legislature appropriated $1,250,000. The second half of that biennium it went
up to $3,250,000; the next year down to $1,625,000; then back up to $3,000,000;
and then it rocked along at the $3,000,000 level. Then the Southwest Florida
Water Management District was created, and immediately we take a dip. After
the Legislature understood what had happened, the figure started to climb and
got up as high as $13,000,000 in 1965. It stayed at a fairly good level until
the Department of Natural Resources was created. We were put under their
umbrella, and funding dropped again. About that time, Terrell Sessums came
along as Speaker of the House, and we were appropriated $35,000,000 for water
management. One of the big reasons for such a large amount was special funding
to acquire the Green Swamp. We had a fellow named Harmon Shields who was
then head of DNR, and when the money crunch came and he was told to cut
back 5 percent of DNR's budget, he took out the money for the Green Swamp.
But, we rocked along anyway. Here is where the other water
management districts became active and functional in 1974. But the next year
we were reorganized, and the Department of Environmental Regulation was
created. We were put under their umbrella, and funding immediately plunged.
We had a little problem then with the Constitution because the other water
management districts did not have the authority to levy ad valorem taxes.
The spending level in 1980 is just about what it was in 1949. In the
meantime, the state's total expenditure for operations went from $173,000,000
to $3,000,883,000. The total disbursement from the state increased
tremendously while water management funding has come down. This means we have
done a poor job of explaining the program to the Legislature, to Mr. Tait, to
the Governor, and to others.
The funding mechanism with the three parties the federal government,
local people through ad valorem taxes, and the state through WRDA is a very
unique, healthy thing. In our District, we spent about one third from local
funds, about a third from state funds, and about a third from federal funds.
This is a pretty good balance.
If you ask what is wrong with the law, I would say the law is pretty
good. I think one thing that complicates it is that the Water Resources
Development Account money has been put into DER's operating budget where it is
counted along with the number of positions they have. These are really fixed
capital outlay matters. This money should be transferred out. It should be
appropriated as part three of your water management district budgets rather
than as part of the general operating fund. This way, you would have some
extra funds you could use to boost the land acquisition program. The years
that you do not have it, you can shrink it, but it will be on fixed capital
outlay rather than inflating DER's budget. That could be amended in the
Constitution very easily. I do not know why that money is in DER's budget. I
think it was kind of a decision to help generate some kind of growth when DER
came into existence. It could still be administered by them, or it could be
administered by the Department of Administration, or just about any way you
want to do it. But we need to continue funding fixed capital outlay projects.
Land acquisition by the water management districts has certainly been
more effective than it has in the Environmentally Endangered Lands Program.
You heard mentioned earlier the St. Johns' suit; it concerns us over at I
Southwest Water Management District because the Green Swamp area might be in
that same situation. We have acquired 133 square miles for an average cost of
$95 an acre. One large tract was acquired at that cost. But acquisition has
come to a halt. There has been no strong recommendation for any money for
further land acquisition. I think we are going to have to camp on the
Governor's doorstep to get a more positive recommendation from him for next
In addition, we probably need to go in and actually repeal Section I of
373.503 which contains the ambiguous language that says "substantially fund".
You could strike that entire subsection, and it would not do any violence to
the laws. There is. nothing there that you need. As long as it stays in the
law, it is a good point for people to debate. The debate originated in
I Tallahassee as to what is "substantial funding". I can see that a good
taxpayer suit might come out of it saying: "Well, it is not being
substantially funded, and therefore you should not spend any money." I think
I there should be some money, but it should not be through fixed capital outlay.
Neither should it be through WRDA funds; it should be in the form of grants to
water management districts to assist them in some of their operations: some
f support, some seed money, some start-up money, on new programs. The newer
districts have needed this more than the older districts. In addition, DER
could contract with the water management districts to perform certain
functions that might be performed more efficiently on a local level. That
would be another way of funding part of the water management districts'
operations. But do not just delegate the responsibility; go ahead and
contract to fund some of these things. It is not a new thing. It is being
j done now on a very limited basis on aquatic weeds and on Lake Jackson.
At one time, it was popular to talk about using user fees to fund all
Sof this; that is not a practical way to approach it. It is fine to attach a
fee so the person who is getting the permit can pay for the cost of processing
the permit. But then you find that most of the cost has been caused by the
Need for additional data, and by the need to protect others. When you say to
some little farmer, "You are going to have to pay a $400, $500, or $1,000
fee," it really gets to be impractical. But there is language in the law that
says you must charge a fee to pay for all of the work. That also needs to be
And, there is the constitutional amendment that granted that taxing
Does have a limitation for northwest Florida. I think it is probably
inappropriate to talk about the merits or demerits of that as far as the St.
Johns" law suit is concerned, but when Northwest Florida has a need to support
water management activities through ad valorem taxation, that constitutional
j amendment could be passed very easily. It is in the law in such a way that it
could be struck very simply, and it would be something that I believe would be
supported by the remainder of the state.
I We kicked around formulas for funding for quite some time, trying to
come up with some means of formularizingg" the activities of water management
districts. We have never come up with any formula that seems to apply to the
needs that you have. It is important that everyone recognize that since the
1885 Constitution was passed, there have been only two times that the people
of this state have voted additional taxes. One was when they voted for Reuben
SAskew's corporate profits tax, approved during the general election, November
2, 1971. The other was for the establishment of water management district
taxing power in 1976. Prior to 1976, Southwest Florida Water Management
SDistrict had the authority to levy up to 1.3 mills and South Florida up to 1
mill, but in the 68th constitutional amendment these were either curtailed or
grandfathered in, so that other areas could not be granted the same authority.
The people, through the constitutional amendment in 1976, then voted an
additional tax in the northern portions of the state, in Sarasota and Manatee
counties, and in other areas. When people start suggesting that ad valorem
taxes are not generally popular, or that the voters are going to abolish
taxing for water management districts, they really have not stopped to
consider that just three years ago the voters indicated they approved of this
system. This was not an increase in the system; this was to continue what
already existed in two sections, and to allow it to occur in the remainder of
Item three of the panel charge asks, "Is the current state budget
process for funding water management districts working, why or why not, and if
not, how can it be improved?" We have had two Task Forces discussing this
question in the last three years. We also have three separate systems for
arriving at a funding figure: the Governor's, that of the House, and that of
the Senate. And then we have eleventh-hour adjustments made to those systems
in which an agreement is worked out, generally with Buddy Blain, Jack Maloy
and the other water management district people saying what they will agree to.
The one additional note I think I should make on this process, especially with
Herb Morgan present, is that this particular portion of the appropriations
bill is signed by the Governor. There is another aspect of the process, the
veto. But it did not occur in this case. I think, in part, Buddy Blain's
chart is interesting in that it shows that we do have a problem determining
exactly what is appropriate state funding, and what are the areas the state
ought to be concentrating on in the water management districts and in water
I go back now to those two Task Forces. They did reach some basic
conclusions, and those conclusions indicate that the cooperation between the
federal, state, and local governments for funding the construction of certain
kinds of structures in public works projects needs to be reevaluated in light
of the 1972 legislation, and in light of the new mission and the concern about
water management. I do not think we are as concerned now about flooding as
much as we are about the availability, and continued availability, of water.
In state funding we should look at needs and at what we are mandating water
management districts to do. That involves a lot of planning and a lot of I
regulation and administration. We should be concentrating on that area; both
of those Task Forces emphasized that.
There is a predominant and major state responsibility to evaluate the
state's participation in the federal and local systems of funding for public
works and construction projects. We ought to encourage the federal government
to reevaluate their system of funding because it does tend to be biased,
perhaps more than necessary, toward the structural approach to flood control
and water management rather than toward a broader, nonstructural approach,
including land acquisition. Perhaps the state's philosophy and theory in its I
participation with the other two levels of government should be toward
developing a more rational system of project funding that may be of special
concern to districts, or to some areas of the state. The state would rather I
have the opportunity to make a decision between a structural solution like
South Florida has been wanting, or of acquiring more land and maybe not
building quite as big a system of dikes or canals. I think the state does
have an interest in the reevaluation of that federal and local process. There I
are some unique benefits that go to local areas that we ought to try to let
local ad valorem taxes pay for because the benefits realized are local.- i