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Water T-at, RECEI.ViEj
March 9 .
By DAVE BALLINGRUD -
Floridians who vote their presi-
dential preference in the Marchs:9
primary will also have an opportuni-
ty to end what some have called
"double taxation" in the southern
half of the state.
A constitutional amendment "aq-
thoriiing and limiting local taxes for
water management purposes to not
more than one mill" will appear o.
One effect of passage of the
amendment would be that the thrle
most recently created water man-
agement districts in' Florida (all ian
the northern part of the state) woOd
be able to tax residents of each re-
spective district for operating funds
rather than depending on-the state's
general revenue fund for financing '
The Central and Southern Florida
F)pod CoptOlI District (FCD) is one
i-f two -warer-imaglwnenr distrits
currently with taxing authority. '.,i
Speaking at a special seminar Yes-
terday in West Palm Beach, FCD
Board Chairman Dr. John DeGirfe
said passage of the amendment is
needed to prevent South Florida resi-
dents from paying for the northern
The FCD may tax at a rate of one
mill, but in fact currently levies only
.375 mill. The FCD millage has been
reduced each of the last six years.!
The'other taxing water authority
is the Southwest Florida Water Man-
agement District. The FCD and the
southwest district together eneot
pass Central Florida south through
These two districts were given tax-
ing authority upon their inception--
fe FCD in 19,9 and the southwht
district in 1961.
But in 19 thelegislature saiaeo
more special taxing districts could be
created without favorable vote of
those who would be taxed anDln
1972, under provisions of the Florida
Water Resources Act, three more
water management districts were
Simply put, the referendum tobe
voted on March 9 will give taxing
authority to the three northern water'
districts as currently enjoyed by. tbp
two southern districts. ,'i
General revenue fund expen-
ditures will no longer be neede4.to
'fund the northern districts, say bh
backers of the amendment. They,say
the amendment provides for "taix
FEB 10 1976
Speaking yesterday before repre-
sentatives of the League of Women
Voters from Broward, Dade and
Palm Beach counties, FCD spokes-
men emphasized that the millge
levied by the FCD would not change.
But the St. Johns Water Ma-
agement District, for example, will
need a "rock bottom minimum".df
S1.5 million next year. DeGrove said,
"The. state just doesn't have tlioi
kinds of fiscal resources to hand
Passage of the amendment .4
therefore necessary, he said, to make
certain sound, comprehensive plait
ning for future water needs is per-
formed throughout the state.
"Even if the state didn't have
money problems, I still would want
local control. I'm not enamored with
stale bureaucracy," DeGrove said...
If the amendment does not pass,
DeGrove said, the state w-ii-stillT~nd
the three'northern districts, but not
at the needed level. "And it's not fait
that we (Central and South Florida
residents) pay for it out of the genern
Donald Morgan, legislative lob,
byist for the FCD, said it is highly
unlikely that the Legislature would
grant the districts immediate author-
ity to tax at one mill, but would begin
at a much lower figure and perhaps
reach one mill at some time in the
DeGrove and Morgan told the
League of Women Voters they have
not encountered any "organized" re.
distance to the amendment from
either politicians.or taxpayers.
There are objections, however,
and ironically they come from at
least one qtwer organization coon-
mitted toconservation. .
The Board of Directors of ihe Flor-
ida Audubon Society recently decided
not to support the amendment
because they believe poor wording
fails to assure that the taxes would go
only for the water management dis-
The amendment says only that.the
taxes are to go for "water maso
It is therefore conceivable, tth
board said in a statement, that Mf
money could be earmarked not oni6
for the five water districts, but als
for "other special districts which
have some relation to the broadly
defined field" of water management,
Also, "the Legislature's decislo
to divide the state arbitrarily into to
areas with radically different milhlgd
caps poses significant questions "o
equity," .he board said. '
A Times Editorial Endorsement
Ballot Proposal Will Provide Sound Water Management
The quality of federal leadership isn't the only issue Palm
Beach County residents will have a hand in d hiding in the upcom-
ing primary election. The quality of one of our most important
resources is also riding on the March 9 ball .
O That resource is water, and the vital qu stion the electorate
must answer is whether it is willing to in ire adequate water
management to, in turn, insure a better future for all Florida.
A vote in favor of a proposed constitutional amendment to
provide water district taxing authority will go a long way toward
meeting that goal.
In essence, the proposed amendment will grant authority to
existing water management districts to levy up to $1 per $1,000 in
property value to finance management projects. Here in Palm
Beach County the Central and South Florida Flood Control Dis-
trict is aleady levying about 38 cents per $1,000 and no change is
Should the proposed amendment fail, however, there's a good
chance local management districts would lose the ability to func-
tion, allowing the state to assume management responsibility.
That would mean a loss of local control and one more usurpation
of power by Tallahassee.
Some objection has been raised over the proposed amend-
ment, including the charge that urban dwellers will bear an inor-
dinate amount of the taxing burden. The benefits derived by city
dwellers from district resources do not support such criticism.
The objection that millage will be set by an appointive board is
also unjustified 'in light of the fact that under the amendment,
legislative control will protect against board abuses. Other minor
objections are similarly unwarranted considering the benefits the
amendment will provide.
While the amendment will not mean more taxes for Palm
Beach County residents, it will mean a better use of those taxes
already being levied. Under the existing structure, some of the
money generated locally is being diverted to other water districts.
The amendment would insure that those funds collected locally
will stay in the Central and South Florida Flood Control District.
In short, Palm Beach County voters have nothing to lose and
everything to gain by supporting the amendment. Its passage will
help provide sound management of water resources and insure
continued home rule.
Palm Beach County residents, as well as all Floridians, are
urged to support the proposed amendment.
The palm Beacih Ames
Published daily except Saturday and Sunday
by Palm Beach Newspapera, Inc. -
'ecil B -KelHev. Sr.. Preudt 'Daniel J. Mahoney. Jr.. Publisher
C. E. NesbaMer. IItr Earl S. Dapp, Managing Editor
West Paib Beach, Fleria tedy Afternoon, February 3, 1976
Ins the March 9 primary election, Florida voters
will decide whether to give water management dis-
tricts the power to levy taxes for the purpose of
water management. The Times recommends voters
support this proposal.