PRELIMINARY RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE
WATER MANAGEMENT DISTRICT REVIEW COMMISSION
RELATING TO DISTRICT GOVERNANCE AND OVERSIGHT
DETERMINED IN MEETINGS OF SEPTEMBER 26-27, 1995
The following additional preliminary recommendations regarding governance and oversight
of the districts were passed by the Water Management District Review Commission during meetings
held in Tallahassee on September 26-27, 1995:1
1. State water policy and the state water plan should be adopted by the Legislature. The Florida
Department of Environmental Protection and the five water management districts should
together draft the state water policy and the state water plan and present them to the
Legislature for adoption.
2. The Commission makes no recommendation regarding the organization, membership or
mission of the Water Resources Coordination Commission established by Executive Order
3. The Commission doest not recommend modification of the current statutory provisions
regarding gubernatorial appointments of district governing board members.
4. The Commission unanimously approved the following recommendations of the Financial
Structure & Budgeting Subcommittee:
The Commission's report to the Governor and Legislature shall reflect that the
oversight capabilities currently reposed within the authority of the Legislature have
not been effectively used to constrain or guide the districts in their budgetary and
operational priorities. Although the authority for legislative and executive oversight
of water management districts' financial activities clearly, exists within the current
statutory framework, constructive application of those oversight prerogatives has not
been sufficient to address citizens' perception that the districts are "out of control."
Accordingly, the Commission makes the following specific recommendations:
a, District budget review responsibility should be formalized within the Executive Office
of the Governor, with coordination of appropriate review deadlines and notices with
legislative committees (see below);
STo implement its recommendations, the Commission anticipates drafting statutory modifications for
consideration during the 1996 regular session of the Florida Legislature.
b. Standing committees on water resources should be created in both houses of the
Legislature, adequately staffed with persons having suitable substantive expertise.2
c. The General Government Subcommittees of the Senate Ways & Means Committee
and the'House of Representatives Appropriations Committee should annually review
the districts' proposed budgets and provide to each district specific comments
regarding budget questions or concerns. The districts should be required to respond
to each appropriation subcommittee comment in writing within a time certain. The
codification of this recommendation should include a "reminder" that the Legislature
has statutory authority to reduce district ad valorem village.
d. The Legislature should consider whether it would be advisable to modify the districts'
fiscal years to facilitate legislative review and adjust TRIM requirements accordingly.
5. A permanent position should be established within the Office of the Governor to review the
programmatic and financial activities of water management districts. The position should
further serve as Executive Branch liaison with legislative committees having substantive and
appropriation jurisdiction over water management districts.
* ** * * ** ** *****
The following proposals or motions were affirmatively rejected by the Commission:
A. Governing boards' power to adopt administrative rules should be limited to those substan-
tially related to water supply, water quality protection, flood control, natural resource
protection and related programs.
B. A state water commission should be created to approve district rules before adoption, review
administrative rules for statutory authority and inter-district consistency; and resolve conflicts
and disputes involving rules. Each cabinet member would appoint a representative to the
commission; the Governor's appointment would be the chairman; and appointments should
represent the major water users in the state, e.g. the general public, agriculture, industry,
development and environmental interests.
C. The Legislature should provide a standard schedule for permit fees and establish the criteria
for allocation between those costs legitimately borne by the permit applicant against those
permit benefits that accrue to the public at large.
2 The Commission recognizes, of course, that the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House
of Representatives have full and sole statutory discretion to create committees that they individually determine
are necessary and appropriate.
Final consideration of the following issues maws temporarily deferred until clarification or additional
information was available:
AA. The Legislature should review current district rules which appear to be in conflict with the
statutory exemption for agricultural activities to determine if the districts are properly
exempting said activities.3
BB. The Legislature should establish a mediation or other alternative process for the resolution
of disputes between water management districts and permitees or applicants involved in
regulatory programs or processes. Although the Commission decided to postpone final
consideration of this matter until recommendations of the District Responsibilities & Opera-
tions Subcommittee were available, the following related determinations were made during
the September meeting:
1. The following types of proceedings should be subject to alternative dispute resolution,
although not necessarily the same process:
permit applications, renewals and modifications, including mitigation issues
existing rule challenges
proposed rule challenges4
2. An alternative dispute resolution should be voluntary, i.e. one party cannot force
another into the process.s
3 The Commission will await recommendations from the District Responsibilities & Operations
Subcommittee on this issue.
4 Mimi McAndrews stated that proposed rule challenges should not be subject to alternative dispute
resolution, and Richard Grosso suggested that ADR proposals should be tailored to each type of proceeding to
avoid unnecessary delay or complication. Howard Searcy pointed out that some rule challenges in which the
districts have been involved, eg. the environmental resource permit rule, are very complicated and involve a
tremendous diversity of issues that probably have to go before a hearing officer for determination, while there
are many other rules in which minor differences could be effectively handled through a simplified process.
Representative Laurent indicated that a "small player" does not have the resources to get involved in the
administrative process, and that the Commission should find a way to craft a mechanism, outside the Chapter
120 process, to provide an avenue for those who could not otherwise afford to challenge agency rulemaking.
Tom Dyer agreed with Howard Searcy and Representative Laurent that an alternative, affordable process is just
as necessary for rulemaking as it is for permit enforcement actions.
s Representative Laurent pointed out that in Florida's circuit court system, there are several causes of action
(e.g. divorce, personal injury), you are required to first go to mediation before the court will schedule a hearing
or trial. If a district takes thq position that it does not "believe in" mediation or otherwise refuses to participate,
what have we accomplished for the citizens?
3. The district should pay the fees and costs of the mediator/facilitator.6
4. For each type of alternative dispute resolution process, distinct points of entry should
Chairman Lewis directed Joe Marlin Hilliard and Tom Dyer, respective Chairs of the District
SResponsibilities & Operation Subcommittee and the Land Acquisition, Planning & Management Sub-
committee, to discuss alternative dispute resolution processes within their respective groups and then
bring those subcommittees' recommendations tothe Executive Director for drafting of proposals for
consideration by the full Commission. The issues and questions posed iti Items I.A.1.-10. & B.1.-3.
of the "Additional Issues and Recommendations on Governance and Oversight of Districts -
September 25-27, 1995, Tallahassee,;Florida" shall be included within subcommittee discussions or
rendered moot by those determinations, as-those bodies ay detetniine in their sole discretion.
********* ** ** **** *
The following proposals were "temporarily passed" and remain available for later reconsideration:
AAA. The Legislature should reduce the millage cap in each district to the currently existing rate.
This would require districts to plan ahead and come to the Legislature fbr increases in millage
rates and, perhaps most importantly, it would force the Legislatue' to consider the funding
impacts of programs it creates and assigns to the districts as "unfunded mandates." It would
also make our elected officials the ones "accountable" for district expenditures.
6 Richard Grosso stated that in a-permit application scenario, there should be some cost-sharing between
the applicant and the district; Mimi McAndrews noted that there may be some bias or appearance of biasif the
mediator/facilitator is paid by the district.
..,,.~,~~,~,--- ~~.,~- -i--- i --^ --rr~-3-IY--~4srr- YIL*LY~UL~~~.~.