Title: Florida Conservation Digest, No 103
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/WL00002104/00001
 Material Information
Title: Florida Conservation Digest, No 103
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publisher: Florida Conservation Digest
 Subjects
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
 Notes
Abstract: Florida Conservation Digest, Feb, 1976, No 103
General Note: Box 10, Folder 2 ( SF Taxation, ad valorem tax referendum-SWFWMD-1976 - 1976 ), Item 56
Funding: Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
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Bibliographic ID: WL00002104
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


1~ 1 Florida Cc

FEBRUARY, 1976

103:1 FLORIDA AUDUBON SOCIETY OPPOSES PROPOSED
CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT BECAUSE OF INADEQUACIES
WHICH THREATEN WATER RESOURCES ACT CONCEPTS AND
IMPLEMENTATION.

Meeting in Orlando on Jan. 24, 1976, the Board of
Directors of the Florida Audubon Society reached
a decision not to support the proposed amendment
to Article VII, Section 9(b) of the Florida
S Constitution. A policy statement by the Board
cited the proposed amendment's failure to assure
funding for and limit funding to the state's five
water management districts as established by the
Water Resources Act of 1972 (F.S.373) as a major
factor in the decision.

As now proposed, the amendment reads:

A9(b) Ad Valorem taxes, exclusive of taxes levied
for the payment of bonds and taxes levied for
periods not lodger than two years when authorized
by vote of the electors who are the owners of
freeholds therein not wholly exempt from taxa-
tion, shall not be levied in excess of the
following millages upon the assessed value of
C real estate and tangible personal property: 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 two and three east, 0.05
mill; for water management purposes for the re-
maining portions of the state. 1.0 mill; and for
all other special districts a village authorized
by law approved by vote of the electors who are
owners of freeholds therein not wholly exempt
from taxation. A county furnishing municipal
services may, to the extent authorized by law,
levy additional taxes within the limits fixed for
municipal purposes." (Underlined portion consti-
tutes proposed addition to Constitution.)


nservation Digest


a NUMBER 103


I


The language proposed for the ballot on March 9th
is considerably less descriptive and provides the
S following for the voters consideration:
"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."

After two days of lengthy discussion featuring
such participants as Senator Robert Graham of
Miami, Senator Kenneth "Buddy" MacKay of Ocala,
Senator Philip Lewis of Palm Beach, Mr. Joseph W.
Landers, Jr., Secretary of the Department of
Environmental Regulation, Mr. Arthur Marshall,
noted Everglades ecologist and former chairman of
St. Johns River Water Management District, Dr.
John DeGrove, Vice Chairman of the Central and
Southern Florida Flood Control District, and Mr.
Frank Caldwell, Board member, Northwest Florida
Water Management District, the Board of Directors
of the Florida Audubon Society adopted the fol-
lowing policy statement:

A POLICY STATEMENT ON WATER MANAGEMENT FUNDING
AND THE MARCH 9TH 1976, REFERENDUM PROPOSING AN
AMENDMENT TO ARTICLE VII, SECTION 9(b) OF THE
FLORIDA CONSTITUTION

"The Florida Audubon Society reaffirms its un-
wavering support of environmentally sound water
management and strongly supports Ad Valorem taxa-
tion as an essential financing mechanism for the
five Water Management Districts established under
F.S. 373.069 of the Florida Water Resources Act
of 1972.

"It is recognized that the adequate and equitable
funding of sound water management programs will


I


1L~"I*~~"C~~~--L---~-I-I--~-~.-C-CIC-- ~II_-~ I-- --~-_


---------~- --------------- ----iCE











require a balance of revenue sources including Ad
Valorem revenue, appropriations from general rev-
enue.by the Florida Legislature and funds from
'other sources.

"Unfortunately, we believe the constitutional
amendment which will be presented to the elec-
torate on March 9th, does not necessarily assure
the use of Ad Valorem taxation for water manage-
ment purposes within the meaning of the provi-
C sions of the Water Resources Act of 1972 (F.S.
373).

"The current posture in which the constitutional
amendment is presented to the electorate renders
S difficult, if not impossible, an intelligent
decision on the issue of Ad Valorem taxation for
Florida's five Water Management Districts.

"The Florida Audubon Society suggests that the
proposed amendment should be revised by the
Legislature to limit Ad Valorem funding authority
to Water Management Districts and their sub-
districts only, provide a uniform village cap for
the entire state, and specify an effective date.
no later than Jan. 1, 1977, in order to assure
C prompt funding for Florida's vital Water Manage-
ment Districts. Thus revised, the proposed con-
stitutional amendment should appear on the ballot
of the general election to be held in November
1976.

"This statement should in no way be construed as
a declaration that Florida Audubon fails to
support fully the Water Resources Act of 1972
(F.S. 373)."

A critical weakness in the wording of the amend-
ment is the lack of specific application to the
Water Management Districts as established under
F.S. 373.


i __________________J----- ~ ~ ~ ;~~~ c


Since the proposed amendment specifies funding
for "water management purposes" instead of water
management districts, it would open the door not
only to the possible.funding of the five regional
water management districts established by F.S.
373, but also to other special districts which
have some relation to the broadly defined field
of "water management. purposes." Such districts as
those established as drainage districts under
F.S. 298, or soil and water conservation dis-
tricts under F.S. 582, would also be eligible for
Ad Valorem funding should the amendment be ap-
proved by the public as currently worded. Dis-
tricts established under F.S. 298 and F.S. 582
are not established for purposes consistent with
F.S. 373 and have historically operated in Flor-
ida with disastrous consequences. While the
amendment as proposed might open the door to the
funding of environmentally adverse water manage-
ment practices by special districts established
under F.S. 298 and F.S. 582, it would not
necessarily assure that the environmentally de-
sirable functions of the five water management
districts under F.S. 373 will be properly funded.
The choice of which local government entities are
to be given the authority to levy an Ad Valorem
tax is left to the absolute discretion of the
Legislature.

Strong pressures are mounting to divide the
hydrologically defined water management districts
into local units- with political rather than
natural boundaries. Collier County interests have
proposed the establishment of a small management
district in the Big Cypress Watershed in south-
west Florida, carving a section out of the larger
South Florida Water Management District origi-
nally envisioned in the Water Resources Act. A
prominent state Senator from central Florida has
even suggested that the regional water management
districts ought to be eliminated entirely, with


__~











their functions being split between "county water
boards" and agencies such as the Department of
Environmental Regulation.

An additional deficiency arises from the failure
of the Legislature to provide the amendment with
an effective date. Even assuming that the Legis-
lature would decide to utilize the passage of the
amendment to fund the water management districts
established under F.S. 373 only, the lack of an
S effective date in the proposed amendment signifi-
cantly reduces the likelihood that any revenue
could be collected by the districts for several
years. Without an effective date provision, the
amendment would not become effective until Jan.
4, 1977. Since Florida law provides for assess-
ments to be levied on Jan. 1 each year, it is
unlikely that any tax revenue could be generated
until late in 1978 or early 1979. Unless the
Legislature amends the tax laws to compensate for
this problem (a difficult and politically touchy
task at best) the passage of the amendment as
currently worded could actually delay vitally
needed funding for Florida's water management
districts.

C Finally, the Legislature's decision to divide
the state arbitrarily into two areas with radi-
cally different millage caps poses significant
questions of equity and public policy and has
caused some legal scholars to raise serious equal
protection issues under the Federal Constitution.
While the legal issues are highly debatable, the
unnecessary inequity is not, and it is not
reasonable to expect the public to tolerate such
political discrimination.


L_ ____ __ C _


4,


The resolution of these problems by the Legisla-
ture and the placement of the referendum on the A panel consisting largely of special interest
ballot of the general election in November 1976 lobbyists, attorneys, House and Senate members
would in no way delay the funding of important and Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice James C.
would in no agement district functions. Legislation Adkins assembled under the direction of Senator

to authorize the water management districts to


levy Ad Valorem taxes may be enacted in the 1976
regular session of the Legislature and made
contingent upon the passage of an appropriately
revised constitutional amendment. In the same
manner, legislation can be passed to provide for
a delay in the scheduled boundary changes of the
existing water management districts to preserve
their existing taxing authority, to become effec-
tive only should a constitutional amendment fail
in November.

Through the enactment of its policy statement on
Jan. 24, the Board of Directors of the Florida
Audubon Society reaffirmed its unwavering support
of the Water Resources Act of 1972 and strongly
supported Ad Valorem taxation as a funding mech-
anism necessary to achieve the goals of this
landmark legislation. The Society in fact sup-
ports the Water Resources Act so strongly that it
is unwilling to accept a constitutional amendment
which is so inadequate.

The current posture in which the amendment is
presented to the electorate renders difficult, if
not impossible, an intelligent decision on the
issue of ad valorem taxation for Florida's five
water management districts. The outcome of the
referendum on March 9, therefore, can in no way
be considered an expression of the desires of the
people of Florida regarding environmentally sound
water management.


103:2 SENATE PROPERTY RIGHTS COMMITTEE CONSIDERS
SWEEPING CHANGES IN REGULATORY REQUIREMENTS-WITH-
OUT INPUT FROM ENVIRONMENTAL AGENCIES.




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