Editorial: "Water Measure Would Penalize Urban Counties"

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Editorial: "Water Measure Would Penalize Urban Counties"
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Editorial. "Water Measure Would Penalize Urban Counties. The Tampa Tribune.
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Water management ( jstor )
Voting ( jstor )
Rural populations ( jstor )
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North America -- United States of America -- Florida


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Box 4, Folder 2 ( SF BASIN BOARD CONCEPT ), Item 86
Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.

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University of Florida
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1 THE TAMPA TRIBUNE, Tuesday, April 30, 19 f


Water Measure Would

Penalize Urban Counties

PEOPLE VOTE, yes, but if law- the proportional representation of
makers from rural Central Flor- Swiftmud knew it would be funda-
ida counties win the current water mentally unfair to demand more
war, pine trees will cast ballots to than 50 percent of the water man-
control water supplies to urban agement district's revenue from Pi-
areas. nellas and Hillsborough taxpayers,
The issue is representation on the who made up more than half the
governing board of the Southwest population of the 16-county district,
Florida Water Management District, without assuring them a proportion-
commonly called Swiftmud. ate voice in the affairs of the district.
Swiftmud's board now has nine If the Swiftmud board is expanded
members, four of whom by state law to 11 members, Hillsborough's and
are designated to represent Hillsbor- Pinellas' representation would drop
ough and Pinellas counties. But, two from 44 percent to 36 percent. That's
bills before various committees of an unreasonable decrease consider-
the state House of Representatives ing the population of the two coun-
would reduce the Hillsborough-Pinel- ties and the tax revenues they con-
las membership to one representa- tribute. The two counties comprise
tive each or expand the board to 11 52 percent of the water management
members, or perhaps both. district's population and contribute
We long have resisted the paro- 58 percent of its revenue.
chial passion of urban politicians and Hillsborough county commission-
water lawyers to run roughshod over ers, who will discuss the issue today,
the interests of rural, developing should send a message to the Legis-
counties to the north and east of the lature by passing a commission reso-
ay urban center. Thoat' e lution to retain equal representation.
Tampa Bay urban center. That's be-
Tam paBase- Those who would have pine trees
cause water is a state resource not vote argue that many of the 16 coun-
owned by anyone. Not only is it a fair ties served by Swiftmud are not rep-
principle but it is the law of the land, resented on the board. But many of
so sayeth the state Supreme Court. those counties make up less than
Rural counties fear their growth percent of the district's population
will be limited by lack of water be- and contribute only a fraction of its
cause it's been "taken" by city folks, operating revenue. For example, 10
And the agriculture and cattle inter- counties, including Hernando, which
ests, so strong in rural areas, fear is the home of Rep. Chuck Smith, au-
their operations will be curtailed by thor of the bill to do away with pro-
lack of water. Urban counties, for portional representation, contribute
their part, fear that rural counties 12 percent of the district's revenue
will cut off the water necessary to and have 13 percent of its population.
meet the needs of the present popu- If Rep. Smith's bill passed and
lations and hinder the ability to sup- gubernational appointments to the
ply water to those hundreds of peo- governing board fell a certain way,
pie who move to the coastal com- these 10 counties with one-half of
munities each day. Hillsborough's proportionate repre-
Twenty years ago, after the one- sentation and one-third of its tax con-
man, one-vote reapportionment, it tribution would have almost four
was established that people, not pine times Hillsborough's representation.
trees, vote. Florida committed itself That's politics at its worse. But
to the principle of equal representa- more than that, it's an obvious viola-
tion and set about undoing the domi- tion of the principle of equal repre-
nation of the Legislature by senators sentation based on where people live
and representatives from rural coun- and consequently the amount of
ties. The result was a realignment taxes they contribute. It's a mis-
wherein the counties with the most placed and perhaps vindictive attack
people got the most votes and those to harm those who use the water and
with mostly pine trees had their rep- pay the tab. We urge the House Natu-
resentation in the Legislature re- ral Resources Committee when it
duced. The principle was applied to meets tomorrow on the Swiftmud bill
all elected and most appointed offi- to reject this patently unjust attempt
cers. to discriminate against people in
The authors of the law creating favor of sparsely populated pineries.