Responsibilities and budgets
of local water boards cut
Despite objections, the Southwest Florida west Hillsborough Basin Board, said
her neighborhood feared the water
Water Management District decided to change management district had moved one
step closer to ultimately abolishing
the boards, the basin boards and establishing an
By PATRICE FLINCHBAUGH tantamount to taxation without rep- "We definitely don't want a state
Tribune Staff Writer presentation. They wanted to ensure water board," she said in an inter-
that tax money collected locally view.
Local water boards won't be would be spent locally, not on water To the governing board, Martin
abolished outright, but their budgets projects outside their areas in which decried the "fast timing, lack of no-
will be rearranged and clipped they had no say. tice to the basin board members"
drastically, according to the 6-to-3 "We'll have a board in Brooks- and appearance of "trying to slip
decision Wednesday by the govern- ville telling us in DeSoto County one over on the legislators."
ing board of the Southwest Florida what to do with our water .... a gov- State Sen. Pat Frank, who urged
Water Management District. ernment without .representation," the governing board to delay any ac-
Despite heated objections from said Peace River Basin Board mem- tion for one year, told its members
eight Florida legislators, protests ber James Lloyd Ryals of Fort they had "misinterpreted what the
from six county commissions, the Ogden. legislature intended" in a "house-
city of Punta Gorda, cattle ranchers, In a resolution passed 5-to-O keeping" bill passed last session to
citrus and vegetable growers, the Wednesday morning, the Hillsbor- clean up some inconsistencies in
water management ,board voted to ough County Commission said the how water management districts
keep the local basin board frame- water district's proposal smacked of and basin boards operate.
work, but strip it of taxing responsi- insufficient representation. ". Now is not the time to diminish
ability for projects "of general benefit County commissions in Charlotte, the presence or power of the basin
to the people of the state and dis- DeSoto, Pasco, Pinellas and Sarasota boards," said Frank. "You wiH need
trict." also passed individual resolutions them when making the difficult
In the example of Hillsborough' objecting to any tampering with the decisions about wetlands that face
County's Alafia Basin Board, that basin boards. you." Frank was talking about the
group's proposed $1.34 million Staff of the water management districts new responsibility of over-
budget for fiscal year 1985 will be district and some governing board seeing protection of wetlands on
pared to $288,893, according to esti- members called the _consolidation bicultural la ids.
mates presented byttaff of the gov- move a necessary;one to prepare for District Executive Director
earning board. As With other basin a future fraught with regional water- ar originally recommend
boards, the smaller purse would related problems wetlands regu- Gary Khlorigin ally recommended
fund those projects "having particu- nation, competition for supplies,. he
lar benefits to limited segments of Stormwater control. cause they were inefficient, but his
the population." "This has been coming on for idea was modified after 4a well-at-
Broader activities, such as water- some time," said governing board tended 3Jily 5 forum in Tampa to dis-
level watching and ground water Chairman Bruce Samson of Tampa cuss the matter. .
monitoring, flood analysis, data col- in an interview. He said as the state Rearraging basin boards' budg-
lection, issuing permits and enforce- delegates more broad-based duties ets "will not really disrupt any-
ment, would be removed from the such as wetlands protection, the dis- thing," said governing board mem-
basin boards' purview along with trict needs more money to pay for ber Don Crane of St. Petersburg, a
the associated funding. those projects, former House member.
Water management districts are "Other basin boards act like ad- Board Treasurer Ronald B. Lam-
empowered to spend as much as one visory boards to their water manage- bert of Wachula disagreed vehe-
mill of ad valorem taxes. The pre- ment districts and they don't seem to mently: "'A vote for this motion is
cise millage and final 1985 budget mind," he said. certainly going to weaken water
for the southwest district will be dis- But citizens in this region of the -management. The fate of the South-
cussed at a public hearing Sept. 5. state do seem to mind. west Florida Water Management
Before it was passed, several Keystone Civic Association mem- "District may be in your hands. It's a
county governments and citizens ber Linda Martin, whose husband start to do away with the basin
called Wednesday's proposed action Charles Martin serves on the North- boards, no question about it."