Title: Letter: 'Fact Sheet', Encl: Draft
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 Material Information
Title: Letter: 'Fact Sheet', Encl: Draft
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
 Subjects
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
 Notes
Abstract: Letter: 'Fact Sheet', Encl. Draft, To: Derrill McAteer, From: James Lewis, Nov 13, 1975
General Note: Box 10, Folder 1 ( SF Taxation, ad valorem tax referendum-SWFWMD-1975 - 1975 ), Item 64
Funding: Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
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Bibliographic ID: WL00002016
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Holding Location: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
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Full Text
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.iOMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOkS AND CONSERVATION
414 Senate Office Building
Tallahassee, Florida 32304
904/488-1710


November 13, 1975


SENATOR GUY SPICOLA, CHAIRMAN
SENATOR RICHARD R. RENICK, VICE CHAIRMAN
SENATORS CHILDERS, HENDERSON, JOHNSTON, J. LANE,
Deeb, EWS, J. THOMAS, AND WINN

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Mr. Derrill S. McAteer, Chairman
Southwest Florida Water Management District
P. 0. Box 1072
Brooksville, Florida 33512


Re: "Fact Sheet"


Dear Mr. McAteer:

I have attached a draft of material which may be use-
ful to members of the Legislature and others wishing
to inform the public of the ramifications of the
March 9, 1976 referendum.

It is important that the information which finally is
distributed be both accurate and understandable. With
those goals in mind, I would appreciate your comments
as soon as you can get them back to me. Since brevity
is another criterion, any comments you might have on
shortening the material also will be appreciated.

If I do not hear from you by December 1, 1975, I will
assume this draft meets with your approval.

Sincerely,



Ja K. Lewis
Staff Director

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cc: k-1nald R. Feaster, Executive Director
Buddy Blain, Attorney


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DR)FT -- For Review Purposes _Sly.


On March 9, 1976, the Florida voter will be asked to approve an

amendment to the Florida Constitution authorizing an ad valorem tax to

finance the management and development of the State's vital water resources.

In addition to the political issues which must be decided during the

Presidential Primary, the following proposed amendment will appear:


CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT

ARTICLE VII, SECTION 9

"Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution authorizing

and limiting local taxes for water management purposes to not

more than one (1) mill."



Several important points must be remembered in relation to the amendment.

1. Passage does not mean automatic imposition of a one-mill tax.

Any tax must first be approved by the Legislature for each district.

2. For residents of Northwest Florida, the wording on the ballot

is misleading. SJR 1061, the 1ngislation proposing the amendment,

limits the tax for Northwest Florida (from Leon County through Escambia

County) to 0.05 mill -- that is, five one-hundredths of a mill.

3. Failure of the amendment will not affect the pre-existing taxing

power of either the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control District

(FCD) or the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD),

assuming there are no boundary changes. However, passage will reduce

the total amount of tax authorized for the Southwest Florida Water

Management District and its basins from a total of 1.3 mills to the

new limit of 1 mill.


BACKGROUND

Florida has been in the water management business for years --

dating from 1949 when the FCD was established covering all or part of

18 counties in Southeastern Florida, and 1961 when SWFWMD was estab-

lished including some 15 counties in the west central part of the state.

Both districts were given authority to levy taxes to support their

activities.

In 1972, the Legislature passed the powerful and very comprehen-

sive Water Resources Act which divided the state into five water


1








management districts. the boundary so th wo

existing districts\and creed a sixth, interim, district until such

time as all tax and other financing measures were completed when it

would then merge into one or more of the other districts. This was to

have occurred in 1975. tht\nd r

Court rulings established, however, that boundary changes of

magnitude required by the Water Resources Act would be so significant

as to effectively repeal the existing taxing authority of the FCD and

the SWFWMD. As a result, the Legislature delayed the boundary change

until December, 1976 and called for a statewide referendum on a Consti-

tutional Amendment authorizing all districts to levy taxes to administer

the Water Resources Act. The referendum has been set for March 9, 1976,

the date of the Florida Presidential Primary.


THE PROBLEM

Proper water management no longer can be considered an academic

problem. Florida's rapidly growing population -- together with the fact

that the population is clustering in crowded coastal locations -- is

placing severe demands upon the State's still-abundant, but ultimately

limited, water resources. L

The two older districts (FCD and SWFWMD) haveAe4fw-financial p

am Sf theipre-existing taxing authority. However, if the

Water Resources Act is to be implemented, it is necessary for the new

districts to.have the same authority.

The newer districts (St. Johns River, Suwannee River and Northwest

SFlorida Water Management Districts) have been supported over the past

/. two years by appropriations from the State General Revenue Fund --

S $500,000 each for the first year and $400,000 each for the second (current)

year. In effect, the entire Florida public has been supporting the

operations of these new districts.

The public living within the boundaries of the FCD and SWFWMD have

been pa~yifngwhat amounts to double taxation for water management -- the

property tax supporting water management in their own areas, and the

sales and other taxes which make up the. State General Revenue Fund used

to support the activities of the other districts. (Sixty-five percent

of the State's population lives in the FCD-SWFWMD area. They pay about

70 percent of the sales tax and the majority of the other taxes in the

state).


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It is the intent of the Water Resources Act that water management

programs be paid for only by those who directly benefit from the pro-

grams.


IF THE REFERENDUM FAILS

The three new districts will continue to lack taxing power. Alter-

nate funding programs will have to be developed. Most likely of these

is an attempt to continue the present program of funding from the General

Revenue Fund. South Florida residents, then, would continue to pay both

for their own and for other water management programs.

Required boundary changes would have to be deferred once again --

otherwise the pre-existing districts will lose their present taxing author-

ity, and the state would have to pick up an additional $30-million-a-year

tab. State assumption of funding responsibilities for water management

will result in an assertion of state authority over water management.

The Water Resources Act provides for delegation of stringent permitting

and regulatory activities to the water management districts, a provision

which is unlikely to be fully implemented if the state -- through the

Department of Environmental Regulation in Tallahassee -- is forced to

carry the financial burden of the water management programs.

As an alternative to taxation or to funding the programs through

the State General Revenue Fund, a system of water use fees might be

required. Staggered fees, based upon the amount of water used, could

be assessed against all persons who withdraw water from ground or sur-

face waters. This would be a difficult and expensive program to admin-

ister.

In any case, funds would be limited. Water management programs --

especially in the newer districts -- would be severely curtailed.

The fragmented "temporary" sixth district would have to be retained

since it could not be added to either the FCD or SWFWMD without affecting

their existing taxing powers. It, too, would require financial support.

S State assumptbin of funding responsibilities -- whether for the

three new districts, or for all five because the boundary changes were

allowed to go through -- will mean that. critical water management problems

must compete with other statewide problems for limited General Revenue

Fund dollars.

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IF THE REFERENDUM PASSES

Control of water management programs and water resources develop-

ment will remain at the local level -- and not in Tallahassee.

Water Resources problems and programs will not have to compete for

funds with other critical state programs -- education, corrections,

health care, etc. -- since massive amounts of General Revenue Funds will

not be diverted to support water management activities.

Those persons who stand to benefit from the programs of water

management districts will pay for the projects.

South Florida taxpayers no longer will be paying for North Florida

programs -- in addition to their own tax-supported programs.

The boundary changes which will divide the state into five hydro-

logically sound water management districts can take place.

Each water management district, including the two older districts

(the FCD and SWFWMD), would request authority from the Legislature to

levy a tax sufficient to cover its operating expenses up to the 1 mill

limitation, or the 0.05 mill limit in Northwest Florida. (It should be

noted that it is unlikely that the full authorized amount of taxes will

be requested in those areas in which 1 mill is allowed. The FCD, which

has authority to levy up to one mill under present law, is levying only

0.375 mill; slightly over one-third of a mill. And, the FCD's taxes

have been dropping slightly in recent years. The SWFWMD, which has

authority to levy 1.3 mills under current law, is levying less than

1 mill throughout its district and its basins.)

The Legislature would consider each request on an individual basis.


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