Title: Policy Statement on Water Management Funding and the March 9th, 1976, referendum Proposing and Amendment to Article VII, Section 9(b) of the Florida Constitution
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/WL00002123/00001
 Material Information
Title: Policy Statement on Water Management Funding and the March 9th, 1976, referendum Proposing and Amendment to Article VII, Section 9(b) of the Florida Constitution
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publisher: Florida Audubon Society
 Subjects
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
 Notes
Abstract: Policy Statement on Water Management Funding and the March 9th, 1976, referendum Proposing and Amendment to Article VII, Section 9(b) of the Florida Constitution
General Note: Box 10, Folder 2 ( SF Taxation, ad valorem tax referendum-SWFWMD-1976 - 1976 ), Item 75
Funding: Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: WL00002123
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.

Full Text
SOUTHWEST FLORID WATER MANAGEMENT DISTRICT INTER OFFICE MEMO


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"THE VOICE OF CONSERVATION"


BACKGROUND PAPER


RE: FLORIDA AUDUBON SOCIETY 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


Meeting in Orlando on January 24th, 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 Constitution. A policy statement
issued 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 (FS 373), as a major factor in the decision.

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
FS 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 FS 298, or soil and water conservation
districts under FS 582, would also be eligible for ad valorem funding should the
amendment be approved by the public as currently worded. Districts established
under FS 298 and FS 582 are not established for purposes consistent with FS 373,
and have historically operated in Florida with disastrous consequence's. While
the amendment as proposed might open the door to the funding of environmentally
adverse water management practices by special districts established under FS 298
and FS 582, it would not necessarily assure that the environmentally desirable
functions of the five water management districts under FS 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.

Even assuming that the Legislature would decide to utilize the passage of the
amendment to fund the water management districts established under FS 373 only,
the lack of an effective date in the proposed amendment significantly 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 January 4, 1977. Since Florida law provides for assessments to
be levied on January 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
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921 Lake Sybelia Drive P. 0. Drawer 7 Maitland, Florida 32751
(305) 647-2615


SINCE NINETEEN-HUNDRED







Florida Audubon Society Background Paper Page 2


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.

Finally, the Legislature's decision to divide the state arbitrarily into two
areas with radically 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 Lolerate such political discrimination.

The resolution of these problems by the Legislature, and the placement of the
referendum on the ballot of the general election in November 1976 would in no
way delay the funding of important water management district functions.
Legislation 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 Amend-
ment. 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 effective only should a
Constitutional Amendment fail in November.

Through the enactment of its policy statement on January 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 mechanism necessary to achieve the goals of this landmark legislation.
The Society in fact supports 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.

For further information contact Hal Scott or Charles Lee at (305) 647-2615.






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