BLACK, CRow & EIDSNEss, TIc.
PfINCIPAL OFFICE. 7201 N. W. ELEVENTH PLACE, GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA
REGIONAL OFFICES: ATLANTA, GEORGIA/CLEARWATER, FLORIDA
BOCA RATON, FLORIDA/NAPLES, FLORIDA/SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA
HOUSTON, TEXAS/PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA/MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA
February 10, 1976
Mr. Sonny Vergara
Southwest Florida Water
P. 0. Box 457
Brooksville, FL 33512
Attached is a copy of the publication which I mentioned to you
In our phone conversation yesterday.
Good luck with the Ocala Chamber of Commerce.
Very truly yours,
BLACK, CROW AND EIDSNESS, INC.
Emily W. Bla, P. E.
PLEASE REPLY TO:
OAINESVILLE, FLORIDA 32602
POST OFFICE BOX 1647
7201 N. W. ELEVENTH PLACE
CABLC AOODC**: BCEGNVFLA
', *" "" ^::' AMENDMENT PROVIDING LIMITED TAXING POWER FOR r ;.,
'- ... ." '-;'.'.FLORIDA REGIONAL WATER CONTROL DISTRICTS ""
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Clement H. Donovanb yr'
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AMENDMENT PROVIDING LIMITED TAXING POWER
FOR FLORIDA REGIONAL WATER CONTROL
Clement H. Donovan
Professor of Economics
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the
authors and not official views of the University of Florida.
Permission to quote granted provided credit is given to
the authors and to the University of Florida Public Ad-
ministration Clearing Service.
PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION CLEARING SERVICE
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
CIVIC INFORMATION SERIES, NO. 58
"This public document was promulgated at an annual
cost of $420.20, or $0.21 per copy, to distribute informa-
tion to the citizens of Florida."
- ---L---. --~--- ----~I-~- ---- -----
AMENDMENT PROVIDING LIMITED TAXING POWER
FOR FLORIDA REGIONAL WATER CONTROL
Clement H. Donovan
Professor of Economics
Senate Joint Resolution No. 1061:
Special District Ad Valorem Taxes for
Water Management Purposes
L One amendment to the Florida Constitution will be on
the ballot for the March 9, 1976 Florida election. This pro-
vides taxing power for Florida Regional Water Control
Districts, a power which two such districts have had by
Last year a judgement by the Fifth Circuit Court deny-
ing the authority of the reconstituted Southwest Florida
Water Management District to continue to levy a property
tax on property within the district, prompted the legislature
to propose this amendment. The 1968 Florida Constitution,
Art. VII,.Sect 9 (b) provides that ad valorem taxes can be
levied by special district governing boards only if autho-
rized by law and approved by a vote of the owners of non-
exempt property in the district. However, this district and
the older Cehtral and Southern Florida Flood Control Dis-
trict had continued to levy an ad valorem tax at varying
rates up to a maximum of 1.3 mills and 1.0 mill, respectively,
under terms of Art. XII, Sect 15 of the 1968 Constitution,
which continued the "ad valorem taxing power vested, by
law in special districts (such as these) already existing
when this revision becomes effective."
Art. VII, Sect 9 of the 1968 Constitution places a ceiling
of ten mills on the rate which counties, municipalities, and
school districts each may levy on non-exempt real property.
The proposed amendment to this section of the Constitution
would authorize the levy of additional millage as follows:
"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 remaining portions of the state, 1.0 mill; and for all
other special districts a millage authorized by law approved
by a vote of the electors who are owners of freeholds therein
not wholly exempt from taxation."
During the 19th century and the early decades of the
20th century much effort, both private and public, was ex-
pended in Florida to drain and reclaim land for agricultural
and other related purposes. Under legislation adopted in
the early 1900's many separate districts were formed and
continue in existence. In the 1920's and again in the 1940's
disastrous flooding associated with hurricanes pointed up
the inadequacy of these piecemeal efforts to handle large
volumes of water through drainage canals.
In 1949 the legislature set up the Central and Southern
Florida Flood Control District (FCD), covering parts or all
of 18 counties, whose purpose was to construct new flooJ
protection works and upgrade existing canals. The FCD
entered into contracts on an 80-20 matching fund basis
with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for engineering
works to manage the surface waters. Later the efforts
were expanded to deal with salt water intrusion, conserva-
tion, navigation, and other water problems.
In the 1950's and early 1960's flood problems arose on
the west coast of Florida and in 1961 the legislature set
up the Southwest Florida Water Management District
(SWFWMD or "Swift Mud"), covering all or parts of 15
counties; stretching from the Suwanee River south to Char-
lotte and inland to Marion, Orange and Hardee Counties.
Thereafter, flood conditions gave way to water shortages
and the threat of salt water intrusion.
With the similar pattern of experience in setting up
authorities in these two areas covering almost half of the
counties and containing nearly three quarters of the state's
population, the legislature decided a more comprehensive,
balanced approach to the state's water management prob-
lems was called for. Although the Florida Water Resources
Act of 1957, as amended in 1963, had provided for water
management districts conforming to hydrologic units, the
arrangement was not highly-successful. In 1972, however,
the Florida Water Resources Act (Chap. 373, F.S.) set th
framework or administering water right on a statewide
asis, applying both to surface and underground waters.
The state was divided into six districts following as nearly
as possible the natural watershed boundaries. Three of the
new districts were in the northern part of the state; North-
west (16 counties), Suwanee River basin (15 counties), and
St. Johns River basin (13 counties). The sixth district was
made up of parts of nine counties along the Ridge and
Lower Gulf coast areas which were not a part of either the
original Central and Southern (FCD) or 'Swift Mud'
(SWFWMD) districts. This sixth district was set up pri-
marily for administrative purposes pending the transfer of
its territory into the other districts, as recommended by the
Department of Natural Resources in 1973. The legislature,
however, delayed the transfer for two years until July 1,
1975 and again until December 31, 1976 due to various
problems encountered in making the transfers of territory.
One of the most pressing problems now is the continuance
of the taxing authority of the two original districts. In
other words, if their boundaries change these districts
would cease to have taxing power and be unable to function.
They have a reprieve until December 1976.
Early in 1975 a declaratory judgement was issued in the
Fifth Circuit that such a boundary redesignation would re-
sult in these two special districts no longer existing as they
were originally constituted. Since they had been given
limited ad valorem taxing power by the legislature when
they were organized in 1949 and 1961, and this special tax-
ing power was continued under Art. XII, Sect 15 of the 1968
state constitution only for existing special districts, the ef-
fect of this judgement, unless overturned by a higher court,
would be to abrogate their special taxing powers. Other-
wise, Art. VII, Sect 9 (b) of the 1968 constitution which
requires prior approval by the affected freeholders for any
special district ad valorem taxes would prevail.
In one sense the issues involved in voting on this pro-
posed amendment seem very clear. It would simply restore
to the FCD and SWFWMD districts their power to levy ad
valorem taxes on non-exempt property within their bounda-
ries as defined by the legislature, which the court order has
struck down. But it would also extend this authority to
levy ad valorem taxes to the newer water management dis-
tricts in the northern part of the state, with a uniform
millage ceiling of 1 mill for all districts except the one in
northwest Florida. One result would probably be sizeable
increases in the budgets of those three newer districts,
which budgets now vary from $587,000 to $680,000, all from
state General Revenue funds. By contrast the current bud-
gets for FCD and SWFWMD, albeit somewhat larger and
more populous areas, are $21.5 and P15.9 millions, respec-
tively. No doubt sizeable increases in their operating bud-
gets could be rationalized by the governing boards of these #,i '
neeier dist~Ttsg-since the legislative and direct franchise
estraint would no longer be present on their budgets.
Another point.that may be of more than academic in-
terest seems to be involved in this amendment. It would
raise water management to a constitutionally recognized-
governmental functionwith a protected tax base subject to
legislative implementation, alongside schools and roads.
True the maximum annual ad valorem tax levy for this pur-
pose would be limited to one tenth what it is for schools and
some might argue that the purpose is equally fundamental
for the future of our state. With the ever-mounting de-
mands on the state's present water supplies from a diversi-
fied agricultural, mining, and industrial economy, plus the
staggering growth in its urban population, water manage-
ment takes on increasing signihcance.
Another more fundamental consideration, at least from
the point of view of political theory, would seem to be in-
volved in this amendment. Under our form of democracy /
the power to tax has been given-to elected legislative bodies,
or reserved to the people through referenda. In Florida's
local government this has been true with county commissions
and city councils setting ad valorem levies. Even though our ,
public schools are separate, single function governmental
units unlike many states, with district boundaries coinciding
with county lines, their governing boards who approve bud-
gets and certify ad valorem village are elected officials. In
the 1968 constitution special district taxing power was
made specifically contingent upon voter approval in refer-
enda. This amendment will remove this requirement for
water management districts and leave the determination of
the property tax for their support, within the one mill limit,
in the hands of a nine member governing board appointed
by the governor. Other governing boards of single purpose
government agencies such as the Board of Regents or the
ormer State Road Board might long for similar discretion-
ary taxing authority to meet their budgetary needs.
Accountability to the taxpayers needs to be maintained,
however, in our framework of goverinme.er t ......
Finally, another economic principle that is basic in the
field of public finance is involved in this proposal. Where
the benefits of a public expenditure are measurable and
divisible, the costs incurred by the government should be
allocated in proportion to the benefits, unless redistribution
of income (net benefits) are planned as a matter of policy.
Management of water resources iz neaof..tthe areas of public
expenditure where benefit--cost analysis has been most
widely developed and applied.
In the two older water management districts (FCD and
SWFWMD) now supported by ad valorem taxes the millage
rate is uniform within the district or river basin. Unless it
can be shown that the benefits flowing from the districts'
projects are in proportion to the assessed value of the prop-
erty, it is obvious that the benefit-cost principle is being
violated. It can easily be demonstrated that the overwhelm-
ing proportion ot the assessvalueotproerty within most
of'fliese districts is in urban areas but it does not follow
that the benefits accruing from flood protection, ground
water withdrawals, or even protection against salt water
iiiti-usiiii are primarily for the urban homeowners.
It may be argued by some that these issues raised above
are academic and the practical matter is to get an assured
source of financing available for water management. Evi-
dently the legislature looked at it in this light since the pro-
posed amendment was approved for the March 9 ballot
rather than waiting for the General Election in November.
But if these issues are important, the voters may well decide
that they should be resolved 'before the Constitution is
amended again (some twenty times in seven years after a
revision in 1968!) and the method of financing which may
be tilted against the urban property owner.
Summary and Conclusions
Water resources are vital to Florida agriculture, industry
and to urban areas. We do not have a bountiful supply.
Regional water control districts have proven useful in
husbanding Florida's water supply. As the state grows the
problem of salt water intrusion in the coastal areas also in-
creases. The two southernmost water control districts
have in the past been authorized to levy up to one mill tax
to finance this vital program. A court decision has pre-.
vented continuation of this millage level if there are any
changes in water control boundaries, adjustments which are
needed. The amendment permits the continuation of this
It also permits limited levy by the other regional water
control districts, authority which these more northern dis-
tricts do not have.
There is possible argument over vesting thin pnwr in
water control district governing boards, the members of
which are appointed by the governor. But to elect them
wouIldTF-te ai dficult problem of candidates, many in re-
girons9whichextend over a number of counties, and with
little.pulic attention to the candidates.
Another problem is, as water supply becomes less in
proportion to demands, of fair allocation of water and fair
allocation of tax costs. These problems will remain. But
the continuation of viable-water control districts is a virtual
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION CLEARING SERVICE
Noe. 1-11 Out of Print.
12. The Florida Constitution of 1885-A Critique. By M. J. Dauer and W. C.
Havard (1955). $1.00.
13. An Administration Surve. of the Greater Gulf Beaches Opposite St. Petersburg.
By W. C. Havard (1955). Out of Print.
14. Bibliography of Florida Government. Edited by William F. Larsen (1955). Out
16. Report of the Governor's Citizens Committee. Edited by Bruce Mason and Pen-
rose Jackson (1956). Out of Print.
16. The Text of a Model Zoning Ordinance. With Commentary. By Fred H. Bair.
Jr., and Ernest R. Bartley (1958). Out of Print.
C17. Approaches to Water Resources Development in Central and Southern Florida.
1845-1947. By John M. McGrove (1958). $1.00.
18. Bayfill and Bulkhead Line Problems-Engineering and Management Considerations.
By Per Brunn and John M. DeGrove (1959). $1.00.
19. Mobile Home Parks and Comprehensive Community Planning. By Ernest R.
Bartley, Fredrick H. Bair. Jr. (1960). $3.00.
20. Representative Government and Reapportionment: A Case Study of Florida. By
William C. Havard and Loren Beth (1960). $1.00.
21. Florida Lakes-Problems in a Water Paradise. By Frank E. Maloney and
Sheldon Plaser (1960). $1.00.
22. Florida City Managers: Profile and Tenure. By Gladys M. Kammerer and John
M. DeGrove (1961), $1.00.
23. Convergences in the Study of Comparative Public Administration and Local
Government (10J9). By Fred W. RiKgs. $1.00.
24. Federal-State Relationships in Interstate Highway Administration. A Case Study
of Florida. By Joseph A. Uveges. Jr. (1963). $1.00.
25. Ad Valorem Problems in Florida. By James Wershow (1964). $1.00. Out of
26. Changing Political Needs and the Budgetary Process in Florida. By Robert
Scott Gilmour (Intro. by Ruth McQuown) (1964). $1.00.
27. The Political Restructuring of A Community. By Ruth McQuown, William R.
Hamilton and Michael P. Schneider (1964). $1.00. Out of Print.
C 28. The Burden of Ad Valorem Real Property Taxes Under Varying Assessment
Ratioa: A Case Study. By Robert J. Garrett and Roy L. Lassiter, Jr. (1965).
29. A Study in Role Conflict: The Departmental Chairman in Decisions on Academic
Tenure. By Frederiek S. Lane. (1967). t1.00.
30. Controlling Waterfront Development. By Sheldon J. Player and Frank E.
Maloney. (1968). t1.00:
31. Should Florida Adopt the Proposed 19SS Constitution? An Analysis. By Man-
ning J. Dauer. Clement H. Donovan and Gladys M. Kammerer. (1968). $1.00.
82. Our Kind of Ombudsman. A symposium edited by L. Harold Levinson. $1.00.
Out of Print.
38. The Technology and Impact of Evaluation in Mental Health Centers in Florida.
By Bruce A. Rochleau. (1974). $1.50.
Please address request to the Director. Public Administratioa Cleaing Servie.
University of Florida. Gainesville. Florida.
_ ~I~Y______~~~1_ _
i '-'. "'* 9 ..9.
;.'* '1 '.^ i ,
CIVIC INFORMATION SERIES (Pamphlel Size)'
SNos. 1.26 Out of Print
27. The Puhlir Administlration Clearing Service: A Tenlt Year ReappraisaL l By'. "
9 ... lBruce II. Mlnnn (19.,>). ,
28. MIiaom, s lretropolain Ejrpi rinlmt. By Gustnve Serino (1958).
29. G.,rrruing Our Metropolitan rommulnitie. By nnrry Knntor (1958). ..
".3 0. The Proposed New Florida Constitution: An Analysis. By Manning J. Dauer
1.,.~~~ (19). 1. .
31. Floridan 1'ntr'. Guid,. Uy H. D. Price and B. B. Mason (19581. Out of Print. ,r '
32. ProI rmin Ilurl.retng: An Aid to Understanding. By Gladys M. Kammerer (1959).
Ier.lnced by No. 38.
33. Floridn's Frrsh Water Lakes. By Ney C. Landrum (1959).
34. County Home Rule. By Gladys M. Kammercr (1959). Out of Print '
35. The Realiportionmaent Amendmernt of 1959. By Rondal G. Downing (1959). Out
:. 36. The Constitutional Amendments of 1960. By John M. DeGrove and Wylie Kll. .
i.alriek (190O). ,
S37. Florida Voter's Guide. 196a Revision. Out of Print.
39. I'rogram Iludgeting: An Aid to Understanding-19I1 Edition. By Gladys M.
389. Urban Planning: An Introdtrlion For The Citizen. By Ernest R. Bartley (196).
40. Reapportionment and Otler Constitutional Anendments of 1l96. By Ruth
McQuown (1962). Out of Print. '
41. The Changing Urban Counlvt. By Gladys M. Knammerer (1968).
.' 42. Revenue Bonds and a New Cyrle for Election of Governor and Cabine~t Cor-
asrti toal Amendments of 1J61. Ily Madelyn L. Katoglis (1963). '
ra/. 43. Le.islalive Power lo Rerlie Constitution. Reorganization of Board of Control
*and Other Co.,sti',trional Amendments of 1961. By Manning J. Dauer and Gladys
M. Knmmerer (1964). .
44. The Three Hundred Million Dollar Road Bond Amendment and Other CosWtitn
tional .Amendments of 1961. ly Gladys M. Kammerer (1965).
45. Florida lter's Guide. 19ef Revision.
46. A NHe Method for Dirrip.lin and Removal of Judges and Other Constit lion l
., nAmendennts of 196. By Gladys M. Kammerer (1966).
47. A Stale Depnrtment of I.eal Afairs. By Gladys M. Kammerer (1969). I .' :
48. Continuing Pcrmission to haur Revenue Rorids for loaker Edueatio--Conlsita- '
Sl'.. ional merdmlent of 19;9. By Gl:dys M. Knmmerer (1969).
49. The Florida I.oislalue. A Bihliography. By E. Lester Levine and William H.
Cr-amer (190. .
'' 0 50. Proposed Aendments to the Florida Constitution. 1970 General Electio. By '
Manning J. lianer. Ernest R. Bartley and Thomas C. Harks. Jr. (1970). '
L 51. Proposed Corporate Income Tax Amendment. Constitution, 1971. By C. H. 'a'. '
Donovnn (19:1). '
52. Prolwsed Anmendment to Ite Florida Constitution. March 14. 197F Election. By
Manning J. Dnuer (1972).
63. Proposed Amrndments to the Florida Constilution and Bond Issue Referendum. .
November 7. 1972. By Clement H. Donovan and Manning J. Dauer (1972).
54. Proposed Amened.ncnlA to the Florida Constitution. November S. 2I07. By. .
Clement H. Donovan. Manning J. Dauer. and Joseph W. Little. (1974).
-55. A Merit Plan for Selecting Judges in Florida. By Larry C. Berkson (1975). '
,". *66. Loral Government Conmprehensive Planning Act of 1975: An Informational Sum- .
mary. By Ernest R. Bartley (1975).
57. Cnmprehensilv Planning and Development: An Introduction For the Citi"en.
By Ernest R. Bartly (1975). .
-.. Amendmtnl Prorldein Limiated Ta.ring Power for Florida Regional Water Control
Disticts. By Clement II. Donovan (1916). "
,,', f .
Please auldress re.lest to the Directnr. Public AIministration Caa nrlng Service.
University of Floridn. Gainesville. Florida. Each Civic Information Series pamphlet .
cost 25 cents. I '
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