THE TAMPA TRIBUNE, Saturday, March 6, 1976
Pros, Cons Of Water Management Referendum Debated
-aemn um Deb -
ByJIM FISHER PROPONENTS, INCLUDING Jeannine Auth. assistant to
TribneCitrus Writer the executive director of the St. John's River Water Manage-
ment District; Donald Feaster. executive director of the
ORLANDO Opponents and proponents of Tuesday's water Southwest Florida Water Management District, and State Rep.
management referendum, who debated the issue here yester- Bill Fulford of Orlando, chairman of the House natural re-
iay, appear to agree there is a need for statewide water man- sources committee, said funding is needed now because of the.
agement but disagree on how it should be instituted. serious aspects of the state's water situation. Both Fulford and
Four authorities spoke in opposition to the referendum, Feaster indicated the referendum represents a one-chance
while others expressed favor in the panel discussion proposition, that a defeat of the referendum would be a man-
spans by the Florida Agricultural Water Council during a date to the legislature that the public didn't want statewide
meetin~t the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association head- water management.
quarters. Both sides said there are weaknesses in the proposed
Opponents...including Mabry Carlton of Sarasota County. amendment, which would permit ad valorem taxing in each of
'lorida Citrus Mutual director and cattleman; Richard Fritch, the water districts to support its program, but the opponents,
chairmann of Mutual's water and pollution control committee; said the' referendum should be voted down, then remedial ac-
Riley Miles. executive director of the Water Users Association tion be taken preparatory to another vote, while the proponents
of Florida, and State Sen. Buddy Mackay of Ocala, generally said the amendment should be voted in and then the bugs be
said the matters of local control and handling of ad valorem taken out.
Saxes were *gie in the proposal, and that additional work Mrs. Auth said work of the St. John's River WMD would be
~uld be nee in the Florida legislature before a suitable ineffective without funding from ad valorem taxes. "Water
program is reaIin. management districts are not punitive permitting agencies,"
she said, "but are created to help agriculturist and urban
users .,. Agriculture is in trouble in a number of areas
because of competition for water disagreement ison which
is the horse and which is the cart."
SHE ALSO SAID there are "hot spots" of salt water in-
trusion in the district.
Fritch presented Mutual's stand against the referendum as
presented, noting, "all of the state is not in need of an inten-
sive water management system." Mutual favors financing of
water management through ad valorem taxes and advocates
local control through subdistricts. such as basins, in each dis-
Fulford said that, if the referendum fails, the legislature
would not jeopardize taxation setups in the Southwest Florida
and Central and South Florida districts. However, he noted, if
the state finances other districts, there would be double taxa-
tion in these two districts.
MACKAY SAID he wants better checks and balances in
decision-making that are Inot provided in present law, that
originally it was the legislature's intention to have a "coordin-
ated system of planned management of Florida resources." .
He termed the amendment as "one of the most critical
issues" facing the state, the decision in which will have great
influence on the future of agriculture.
Both MacKay and Feaster said the referendum is a matter
of judgment. Feaster said there are a "lot of bugs" in the
amendment, but they should be remedied after a successful
referendum. He claimed that. it the referendum fails and
coorections then are made in the proposal, voters would not be
aware of the difference the next time around. -
CARLTON EXPRESSED concern about water control by
larger urban areas, that he was "fearful of pumping of water
from the interior to benefit coastal areas." He advocated a
compromise that would incorporate a Basin Board concept.
Miles said he wanted proper control and spending proce-
dures if districts are going to be given power to tax real estate.
He expressed favor for statewide management under rigid
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