Title: Letter: Proposed Constitutional Amendment
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 Material Information
Title: Letter: Proposed Constitutional Amendment
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
 Subjects
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
 Notes
Abstract: Letter: Proposed Constitutional Amendment, To: Derrill McAteer From: L.M. Blain, Nov 7, 1975
General Note: Box 10, Folder 1 ( SF Taxation, ad valorem tax referendum-SWFWMD-1975 - 1975 ), Item 68
Funding: Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
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Bibliographic ID: WL00002020
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Holding Location: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

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GIubONS, TUCKE, McEWEN, Sit, COFER & TAUB
ATlORNKTl AND COUNaBLLORI AT LAW
600 6ADISON STREET. P.O. BOX 18.8
1. a. OIOaIoN. 166a.i13s
TAMPA. FORIDoA 33001 oUnm OGIaVs. .S **U-l
(818) 228-7841 umr x. arAw Pamu 3. zAsZArA
Jou~m a. corFM JAM"B M. CMOEWr
TIOMAS U. CONO. JR. MA&COLM P. MICKLIR. Ill
A. PV.rUCMR DTCoIU I. uADrORD MI.LZR
VJ. MCUAI. IVORD WnILLKU a. p]ATr
November -, 1975 A*Im. ..o. N AR. BE. .u
mOIr 0. GIOnom AMOD N. xrI. i.
SAM 36. o KMNOM T0INa3OO 0. TACO
jOar A. oUrmOr. JR. WM. *3AJ. TUCKrBr
VICTORIA L. rUNT JACUBTEmr B. WrATIUT
3B0MWR V. WILUIAUM

IXN MlLT 3313* TOI
Mr. Derrill McAteer
Chairman
Southwest Florida Water
Management District
P. O. Box 1072
Brooksville, Florida 33512

RE: Proposed Constitutional Amendment

Dear Mr. Chairman:

You have asked us to research two questions:

1. If the constitutional amendment passes, what is
to keep the legislature from giving the ad
valorem taxing authority to some other group
or allowing the state to use this authority?

2. If the constitutional amendment passes, will
it give an open ended authority for the legis-
lature to allow several units of government to
levy up to one mill each on the same property?

The state legislature holds an omnipotent position in the
creation of special tax districts. The Florida Constitution
is the only limitation on the inherent sovereign right of
the legislature to levy taxes, and there is no bar as to
the creation of special tax district for local improvements.
Only the legislature has the inherent power to levy a tax,
but the Constitution prohibits that state ad valorem taxes
may be levied upon real estate or tangible personal property.
Article VII, Section l(a).

The fundamental object to be followed by any court in construing a
constitutional provision is to ascertain and give effect to
the intentions of the framers and adopters, and the constitutional
provision must be interpreted in such a manner as to fulfill
the intention rather than to defeat it. Supreme Court in
State Ex Rel Dade County v. Dickinson, 230 So. 2d 130, 135.

Ad valorem taxes are only authorized as local taxes. Article
VII, Section 9 is headed "Local Taxes." Subsection 9(a)
provides that:


I~ _







Mr. Derrill McAteer


"Counties, school districts, and municipalities
shall be authorized by law to levy ad valorem
taxes ." and that "special districts may be
authorized by law to levy ad valorem taxes .

Subsection 9(b) sets limits on the maximum millages to be
authorized by law and provides that:

"Ad valorem taxes shall not be levied in
excess of the following millages .

for all.county purposes, ten mills;
for all municipal purposes, ten mills;
for all school purposes, ten mills; and
for special districts a millage authorized
by law approved by vote of the electors .

The proposed constitutional amendment asserts a provision for
water management purposes as being distinguished from all
other special districts.

The proposed amendment will change subsection 9(b) to provide:

"Ad valorem taxes shall not be levied in
excess of the following millages .

for all county purposes, ten mills;
for all municipal purposes, ten mills;
for all school purposes, ten mills;
for water management purposes for the
northwest portion of the state lying
west of the line between ranges 2 and 3 east,
0.05 mill;
for water management purposes for the remaining
portions of the state, 1.0 mill; and
for all other special districts a village
authorized by law approved by vote of the
electors .. ." (Changes are underlined.)

In a commentary on Section 9 of the 1968 Constitution, Talbot
"Sandy" D'Alemberte, one of the drafters of the 1968 revision
points out that subsection (b), which was not included in the
Constitutional Revision Commission recommendation, but inserted
by the legislature, provides that counties, municipalities, and
school districts may not impose ad valorem taxes in excess
of ten mills except for taxes levied for the payment of
bonds and taxes levied for no more than two years which
are approved by vote of the registered electors yet
the special districts do not have any.constitutional
limits so long as a millage rate is determined by law
(the legislature) and approved by vote of the electors.


November 7, 1975




4Wii


Mr. Derrill McAteer 3 November 7, 1975


The proposed constitutional amendment, if approved, will
enable the legislature to authorize special districts to
levy up to one mill ad valorem taxes for water management
purposes on any real estate and tangible personal property,
but this limit will apply in the aggregate for all special
districts having jurisdiction to levy ad valorem taxes
over the same real estate or tangible personal property.

For example, water management district-wide taxes and
basin-wide taxes are limited in the aggregate to one mill.

In 1967 the obvious legislative intent expressed in both
Chapters 67-395 and 67-396, Laws of Florida, 1967, was to
impose "a definite millage maximum on ad valorem taxation."
Supreme Court quoting opinion of the Attorney General 068-87
in State Ex Rel Dade County v. Dickinson, 230 So. 2d 130, 134.

Subsequently, this same legislature adopted a joint resolution
proposing the 1968 Constitution which was subsequently approved
by the voters. The new constitutional provision relating to
ad valorem taxes represented a drastic departure from prior
constitutional provisions governing local taxes, which set
millage limitations only for school taxes. The new Constitu-
tion imposes a non-election aggregate ceiling of 30 mills of
ad valorem taxes on any real estate and tangible personal
property.

The proposed amendment would increase this non-election
aggregate ceiling for most of Florida (the panhandle excepted)
to 31 mills by adding one mill for water management purposes.

Bear in mind that the long standing constitutional prohibition
against state ad valorem taxes continues and these may only
be authorized as local taxes.

As mentioned earlier, the state legislature holds an omnipotent
position in the creation of special districts. The intent
of the state legislature is clear, that being to fund the
water management districts created pursuant to Chapter 373.
There, of course, is nothing to prevent the legislature from re-
structuring these water.management districts or abolishing them
altogether and delegating the authority to some other state
or local agency. However, the legislature would be prohibited
from granting ad valorem taxing authority for water management
purposes to any creature of government other than special dis-
tricts authorized to use local taxes.

Other cases have already construed the 30 mill limitation and
there would be no legal way for the legislature to grant ad
valorem taxing authority to be levied in excess of the total







Mr. Derrill McAteer 4 November 7, 1975


of one mill for water management purposes, without referendum.

This doesn't mean that the legislature could not allocate
less than one mill to existing water management districts
and give some other portion of that one mill to some other
local special district to perform some phase of water
management activity.

Originally, we suggested that the millage be limited to
a grant of authority to water management districts. If
these had been specifically named, this might have been
construed to create constitutional water management districts.
There is a strong resistance to this since most legislators
do not want to create problems akin to those they now faced
with the Game and Fish Commission.. We also considered speci-
fying that this ad ad valorem taxing authority could only be
granted to the existing water management districts. However,
we have already found out the problems of what happens'when
we grandfather in "existing" districts, as seen in the
Hernando County case.

The intent of the legislature is quite clear, as expressed
in Chapter 373 and as stated numerous times by both the
Senate and House committees and the leadership in both.
This doesn't mean that water management districts, as we now
know them, will continue to exist forever. It does mean
though that not more than one mill total taxation may be
authorized for water management purposes over and above
the 30 mills presently authorized to be levied.
Sincerely,



L. M. Blain


LMB/gw




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