P.O. Sox 1027
SEMPA- FL 33609
FM ,oo, S 20o,o
gives its support
of tax referendum
By NORMA GILL
Herald Staff Writer
The new Ridge and Lower Gulf Coast Water Mangement
District, in an organizational meeting Monday in Sarasota,
v unanimously gave its support to the March 9 statewide refer-
endum to give the districts property taxing powers.
Only two districts the South West Florida and South
Florida (or Central and Southern Florida Flood Control) have
powers now. The taxing ability will be lost when district boun-
daries are changed now slated for Dec. 31, 1976 unless
the referendum passes.
Jim Stiedman, representing the Florida Department of
Environmental Regulations (DER), said if the referendum
fails, the legislature might decide to leave the water district
boundaries in their present configurations, providing money
for operations from the state's general fund. Money from
Tallahassee frequently "has strings on it," he said.
L.M. Bain, attorney for the Southwest Florida district, ad-
vised that further legislation will be needed if the referendum
a Constitutional amendment passes. The referendum
provides a one mill cap.
He said "local boards in local areas levying local taxes"
are preferable to money from the legislature.
State Sen. Warren Henderson (R-Venice) also supported
the referendum. He said the new district "may be more per-
manent than we think" depending on circumstances. -He
recommended that the DER grant the district water use
regulator power as soon as possible. "It's important in this
area," he said.
But delegating that authority to the new district appears
to be at least six months perhaps longer away.
Stiedman said the DER is ready to delegate the regulatory
powers "as soon as you are ready."
Bain pointed out that SWEM& had worked for three years
to develop data on which to base its water use regulations
and taken another year to write the regulations.
Do it right and you won't be hamstrung by court decisions
against you, he warned.
: Several board members appeared ready .to receive water
I regulatory powers immediately while others followed the
t cautious route.
Jack Brandon of Lake Wales was elected chairman of tlhe
Board and Stanley W. Hole from Naples, vice chairman. Ms.
i Mary Kuape of Sarasota, a former member of the lanasota
S, Basin Board, was named secretary-treasurer.
1 Briefings on state laws took a large part of the fivehour
S| (See WATER Page 1-2)
Fom Page BI
meeting. The board learned about government in the sunshine
and the Administrative Procedure Act and its effect on water
Representatives of South West Florida and South Florida
districts offered supportive services to the new district which
is without a staff except what is provided by DER.
A budget proposal for 1975-76 earmarks $22,o00 for services
to be received from South Florida and $10,000 for South West
The budget calls for hiring an executive director at $15,000
(for nine months) and a secretary. It allocates $30,480 to the
Manasota Basin and provides $5,000 for cooperative programs
with the U.S. Geological Survey and provides for attorney
fees and accounting services.
District expenses are estimated at $18,700 and there is a
contingency of $37,585.
Brandon was authorized to appoint committees to begin
searching for an executive director and secretary, legal
counsel and an accounting firm. In the interim, Brandon's
office in Lake Wales will serve as a mailing address for the
The board established the third Monday as a regular meeting
date. Meetings will be held at various locations in the district
'which stretches from Lake Wales to Key West. In addition
to the Manasota Basin, there are the Keys Basin, the Big
Cypress Basin and the Ridge Basin. Only Manasota has been
SThe board also received a 1976-77 budget proposal of $105,000
(for a six-month period). The district's budget is included
In the DERf budget which must be submitted the final time
by the end of the year for inclusion in the total budget from
Gov. Jeubla Askew. SIoldmra said the district could ask for
additional "emergency funds" If the district continues to oper.
ame begnd i present expiration date, Dec. 31, 178.