7r4A4PA 'f(A1 s
PniP ellas may unalso oppos water tax'
in wake of Hillsborough i
By BARRY FRIEDMAN
Times Staff Writer
Pinellas County commissioners said they
may follow the course of the Hillsborough
County commission and take a stand
against an upcoming constitutional amend-
ment on taxation for water districts.
Pinellas commission chairman Don
Jones asked his county legal staff to draw
up a resolution opposed to the proposed
amendment at a meeting yesterday be-
Stween the two county commissions.
Hillsborough commissioners voted unani-
mously Wednesday to oppose the amend-.
Sment on the March 9 ballot that would
allow water management districts to levy a
one-mill tax. A mill represents $1 for every
$100 of assessed property.
Jones said Tusday the Pinellas commis-
slao should consider a resolution against the
Amendment. However, a vote was delayed
Until next Tuesday's commission meeting
. because two commissioners were absent.
The Hillsborough commission's vote met
with strong criticism from state Sen. Guy
SSpicola, D-Odessa, chairman of the senate
natural resources committee.
The commission was "playing right into
Pinellas and St. Petersburg's hands," he
Spicola said Pinellas County officials
want to see the amendment defeated so a
statewide water authority will be created.
Spicola also said the amendment would
reduce water district assessments from 1.3
mills to 1 mill. However, John T. Alen.
Pinellas' consulting attorney for water mat-
ters has said he believes the amendment
would actually allow taxes to increase to 2
Hillsborough County's position on the
amendment is consistent with past beci-
sions, attorney Clint Brown said at yester.-
day's meeting between the two commis-
sion. Brown is consulting attorney to Hills-
borough County on water management.
2- ~ e
Hillsborough County joined in a suit wlth:
Hernaddo County challenging the ability-.
the Southwest Florida Water Managementi
Distrit (SWFWMD) to levy taxes, he said.,-..:
The suit challenged the water district'si
taxing authority based on a change in1
Hitllborough County residents will bi
taxed without a referendum if the amend-.
ment passes. Brown said. Residents of
Sarasota and Manmtee Counties, two new
SWFWMD members, couldn't be taxed until
they approve the new taxes, he said.
Yesterday's meeting was called by te
Pinellas County commission to diseuts
statewide matters of Interest to both covw*
Both Jones and Hilisborough commission
chairman Betty Castor said the two coni-
missions should cooperate more In matters
of common interest, despite disagreements.
SThe meeting was held at the Bay Harbor
Inn n the Courtney Campbell Parkway
overlooking the Hillsborough County side.,o
Old Tampa Bay. .
-, c ., I.
Pinellas, Hillsborough to map
attack on water board makeup
By PATRICK McMAHON
- St. Persbura Ti Staff Wrter
TAMPA Pinellas and Hillsboreugh
counties, often the feuding opponents in
battles about wellfields and water supplies,
politely agreed Thursday to map out an
attack on the makeup of the water board
that often has to resolve their feuds.
In a chummy meeting in Tampa, the Pi-
nellas and Hillsborough county commis-
sions asked their staffs to work together on
a joint proposal for restructuring the South-
west Florida Water Management District,
commonly called Swiftmud.
The nine-man Swiftmud board has one
member from Pinellas and one member
from Hillsborough on it, although the two
counties have about 63 per cent of the popu-
lation and 65 per cent of thetaxbase in the.
15-county Swiftmud area.
AMONG THE measures discussed
were legislation that would add more mem-
bers to the Swiftmud board and provide
weighted votes for board members from
populated counties, and a lawsuit to test
whether the one-man, one-vote concept.
should apply to Swiftmud representation.
Water was item No. 1 on an agenda of
legislative proposals and other items that
the commission wanted to discuss jointly.
Although the commissions fought at a dis-
tance recently over a new wellfield for Pi-
nellas, there was not a hostile remark at the
It was left to Swiftmud board attorney
L. M. "Buddy" Blain, who attended the
meeting, to even hint at the division be-
tween the commissions.
WHENEVER any highly controversial
water issue arises, Blain said, "Pinellas
says. 'If you do this you're going to kill
yourself'... while Hillaborough says,'If you
don't do this you're going to kill yourself.'"
One of the reasons the Legislature has
Jpot reformed the board is because of the
"big crunch" between the two largest popu-
lation areas over water.
Blain also took issue with opponents of
the 'proposed constitutional amendment
concerning water management takes. He
said the amendment simply would return
the water districts to the taxing status be-
fore the 1968 Constitution so that they
could tax up to 1 mill for water manage-
ment purposes without a referendum (one
mill is equal to $1 per $1,000 of taxable
The Hillsborough commission has
opposed the amendment, and the Pinellas
commission will consider it Tuesday. The
election is March 9.