Title: Excerpts from Proceedings of Northwest Florida Water Management District's Annual Meeting on Current Issues in Water Management District Funding
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Title: Excerpts from Proceedings of Northwest Florida Water Management District's Annual Meeting on Current Issues in Water Management District Funding
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Language: English
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
Abstract: Excerpts from Proceedings of Northwest Florida Water Management District's Annual Meeting on Current Issues in Water Management District Funding, October 25, 1979
General Note: Box 8, Folder 3 ( Vail Conference, 1993 - 1993 ), Item 47
Funding: Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
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Bibliographic ID: WL00001333
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
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Hosted by Northwest Florida Water Management District
in Tallahassee, Florida
October 25, 1979

HON. DAN FARLEY, Secretary/Treasurer, Northwest Florida
Water Management District Governing Board, Tallahassee,

MR. L. M. (BUDDY) BLAIN, Legal Counsel, Southwest Florida
Water Management District, Tampa, Florida

HON. R. T. (TOMMY) CLAY, Chairman, St. Johns River Water
Management District Governing Board, Grandin, Florida

MR. JOHN R. (JACK) MALOY, Executive Director, South Florida
Water Management District, West Palm Beach, Florida

HON. HERB MORGAN, Chairman, House Appropriations Committee,
Florida House of Representatives, Tallahassee, Florida

MR. W. JAMES (JIM) TAIT, Director, Office of Planning and
Budgeting, Office of the Governor, Tallahassee, Florida

For fiscal year 1979-80, Florida's five water management
districts requested $28,074,378 from state funds to support their
activities. For fiscal year 1980-81, the request was for
$29,752,894. In June 1979, the state Legislature passed the
appropriations bill for FY '80 and FY '81, granting to the water
management districts collectively the sums of $4,050,550 and
$4,016,550, respectively. This represents a net reduction in
funding of $49,760,172 below the water management districts'
request. Moreover, the total support to the districts of
slightly over eight million dollars represents a state
expenditure for water management of approximately 1/20th of 1
percent of the state budget.

Operations, construction, and land acquisition activities of
the water management districts have traditionally been supported,
at least in part, by state funds. During the past legislative
session, the funds proposed by the water management districts for
construction and land acquisition were reduced significantly
below the level of the original request. For example, one water
management district received only $25,000 to go in its 30 million
dollar budget for land.

For what purposes and in what amount should the state
appropriate funds to the five water management districts?


Speaking directly to the questions: "For what purposes'(and how much
money) should the state appropriate to the five water management districts?"
and in deference to the fine work that the Chairman of the House
Appropriations Committee has done for the water management districts over the
last few years my response is: "A hell of a lot more than they have already."
Let me indicate to you why I feel that way. I have, over the last two or
three years, been impressed by statements by elected officials on the
importance of water to Florida. It is very difficult to pick up a newspaper
in a large urban community in Florida and not read something about water. And
yet, when you look at the amounts the state, local governments, and local
property taxpayers are each putting into solving water problems, the state's
share is not that large. I think there is a great imbalance, but it is not
easily solved because Florida does have other pressing problems. We have
been, for example, extremely concerned about education in the last few
sessions of the Legislature. I think that is entirely appropriate. There are
also major concerns about transportation and about the delivery of health
services, but I keep returning in my mind to a basic question: "What can you
do in this state without water?"

The Water Resources Act of 1972 does say the state should pay a
substantial portion of the funding for regulatory and planning activities
intended to guarantee future levels of economic development, of population, and
of agricultural activity. But I think the state falls short of providing the
water management districts with enough funding to accomplish it. I recognize
that there is not enough money for everything that everyone wants to do, but I
would indicate to you that if water is as important to the future of Florida as
many people seem to think it is, it occurs to me that the state should spend
more than 1/20th of 1 percent of the annual state budget on solving water

Compared to the less than five million dollars that the state will
provide, local taxpayers in the state will probably spend in the neighborhood
of 35 million dollars in taxes for water management this coming year. There is
a great deal of discussion about relief for the local taxpayer. If we are
going to give some kind of relief to the local property taxpayer who is
presently carrying the major burden for water programs in this state, where
will the monies to pick up the slack come from if not from the state? I do not
want to leave the impression that I feel the Legislature has not dealt in a
forthright manner with water management problems. These are not new problems
and the legislators have gone over them in great depth. I think the purpose of
this panel is to provide different funding viewpoints so that people can have a
broader point of view. The final response may be that the cost of water
management in Florida must be providedby the local property taxpayer. If that
is the case, I think it is necessary to delete the language of the law which
requires "substantial funding" by the state.

For those of you who are not familiar with the Water Resources
Development Account, let me say a few words. Years ago, prior to Chapter 373
or the Water Resources Act, this fund was created to carry out the state's role
- in a three-party relationship between the federal government, the state,


and the local sponsors of flood control projects. In this tripartite
arrangement, the federal government, through the Corps of Engineers, would be
responsible for the design and construction of projects. The state would
provide funding to match the federal dollars for construction and for public
relocations, and the locals (the flood control districts in this case) would
provide tax dollars to operate and maintain the projects in conformance with
the requirements of the Corps of Engineers. At this point, in our project
alone, the federal dollars in the project are somewhere in the neighborhood of
$300,000,000; the state dollars close to $100,000,000; and local dollars in
excess of $100,000,000. This three-party arrangement has worked extremely
well. We in the water management districts feel that it is appropriate to
continue that relationship. The federal government has not shown an
inclination not to continue it. They have talked about some new formulas for
new projects, but the projects within Florida are old ones, vis-a-vis the new
congressionally authorized projects. These projects were all congressionally
authorized in the late '40's, '50's, and early '60's.

It will be necessary for the state to play its proper role in this
process, or the burden for the projects will have to go to the'local taxpayers.
It is a difficult dilemma, and it is not my intent to try to point the finger
at the Legislature or anywhere else. But I do want to point out that there are
two opportunities for funding water resource projects. There is the existing
partnership of federal, state, and local, or the entire program can be shifted
and carried by local taxpayers. I am not aware of a third funding mechanism
that might appear on the horizon. There has been discussion about a "user fee"
for water supply, but that will not apply to flood protection. We might work
out some kind of new formula for water supply, but how are we going to fund
flood protection? The optimum structure for water management district funding,
from the point of view of construction projects, is to continue with the
existing federal-state-local relationship which has worked so well for over 30

There has not yet surfaced criteria to determine what the words
"substantial funding" mean in regard to the regulatory and planning
responsibilities given to the water management districts in 1972. But many
people understand and appreciate the fact that several of the water management
districts developed planning and regulatory programs well in advance of any
kind of formula being worked out because it was felt, in water management
circles, and obviously in the Legislature, that there was a job that needed to
be done and that we needed to get on with it. We are at a point now where the
water management districts are "funding substantially" the regulatory and
planning programs from local taxes. It may be that.is how they should do it,
but it also may be that we can come up with a predictable mechanism whereby the
state could.provide some additional funding to carry on these programs.
Personally, I feel, from the point of view of the local taxpayer, that so long
as the language remains in the statutes about substantial funding being
provided by the state, it is incumbent on the water management district people
who represent'those local interests to try to get state dollars so that those
dollars will not have to be levied in local property taxes. However, once this
language is clarified in the statutes, either to provide a clear formula or to
say once and for all that. this program should be funded totally by local
dollars, then I think it is a water management district's responsibility to

get on with the job. There is some sound logic that the beneficiaries of these
programs are the people paying the taxes. But, by the same token, those people
who benefit from these taxes are also the people contributing the major share
of the state's revenue for the state's programs.
In regard to the final question, "Is the current state budget process
for funding water management districts working?", let me say that the water
management districts' work, and the work on water resources, is going forward.
From the point of view of some of us in water management.districts and from the
perspective of the local taxpayer, the budget process is not working as well as
it would if the state were to pay a larger share of the burden.

I have gone back and looked at the funding history of water management
since 1949, looking to see if there are any particular things that might have
influenced it, like during the year that Herb Morgan was elected, and when W.D.
Childers came to Tallahassee, and some of these were significant. I have a
chart that I would like to use. What I wanted you to see is that in 1949, when

I' I
S-- 000-0-- --z----

$Ioo~oooxx ------__ ------__ __4--____ -----__--____
I o I t i l s 11 1-
190 1S 960 P96B 1970 1975 WO

the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control District was created, the
Legislature appropriated $1,250,000. The second half of that biennium it went
up to $3,250,000; the next year down to $1,625,000; then back up to $3,000,000;
and then it rocked along at the $3,000,000 level. Then the Southwest Florida
Water Management District was created, and immediately we take a dip. After
the Legislature understood what had happened, the figure started to climb and
got up as high as $13,000,000 in 1965. It stayed at a fairly good level until
the Department of Natural Resources was created. We were put under their
umbrella, and funding dropped again. About that time, Terrell Sessums came
along as Speaker of the House, and we were appropriated $35,000,000 for water
management. One of the big reasons for such a large amount was special funding
to acquire the Green Swamp. We had a fellow named Harmon Shields who was

(P k]

then head of DNR, and when the money crunch came and he was told to cut
back 5 percent of DNR's budget, he took out the money for the Green Swamp.
But, we rocked along anyway. Here is where the other water
management districts became active and functional in 1974. But the next year
we were reorganized, and the Department of Environmental Regulation was
created. We were put under their umbrella, and funding immediately plunged.
We had a little problem then with the Constitution because the other water
management districts did not have the authority to levy ad valorem taxes.

The spending level in 1980 is just about what it was in 1949. In the
meantime, the state's total expenditure for operations went from $173,000,000
to $3,000,883,000. The total disbursement from the state increased
tremendously while water management funding has come down. This means we have
done a poor job of explaining the program to the Legislature, to Mr. Tait, to
the Governor, and to others.

The funding mechanism with the three parties the federal government,
local people through ad valorem taxes, and the state through WRDA is a very
unique, healthy thing. In our District, we spent about one third from local
funds, about a third from state funds, and about a third from federal funds.
This is a pretty good balance.

If you ask what is wrong with the law, I would say the law is pretty
good. I think one thing that complicates it is that the Water Resources
Development Account money has been put into DER's operating budget where it is
counted along with the number of positions they have. These are really fixed
, capital outlay matters. This money should be transferred out. It should be
appropriated as part three of your water management district budgets rather
than as part of the general operating fund. This way, you would have some
extra funds you could use to boost the land acquisition program. The years
that you do not have it, you can shrink it, but it will be on fixed capital
outlay rather than inflating DER's budget. That could be amended in the
Constitution very easily. I do not know why that money is in DER's budget. I
think it was kind of a decision to help generate some kind of growth when DER
came into existence. It could still be administered by them, or it could be
administered by the Department of Administration, or just about any way you
want to do it. But we need to continue funding fixed capital outlay projects.

Land acquisition by the water management districts has certainly been
more effective than it has in the Environmentally Endangered Lands Program.
You heard mentioned earlier the St. Johns' suit; it concerns us over at
Southwest Water Management District because the Green Swamp area might be in
that same situation. We haveacquired 133 square miles for an average cost of
$95 an acre. One large tract was acquired at that cost. But acquisition has
come to a halt. There has been no strong recommendation for any money for
further land acquisition. I think we are going to have to camp on the
Governor's doorstep to get a more positive recommendation from him for next
In addition, we probably need to go in and actually repeal Section I of
373.503 which contains the ambiguous language that says "substantially fund".
You could strike that entire subsection, and it would not do any violence to
the laws. There is nothing there that you need. As long as it stays in the
law, it is a good point for people to debate. The debate originated in


Tallahassee as to what is "substantial funding". I can see that a good
taxpayer suit might come out of it saying: "Well, it is not being
substantially funded, and therefore you should not spend any money." I think
there should be some money, but it should not be through fixed capital outlay.
Neither should it be through WRDA funds; it should be in the form of grants to
water management districts to assist them in some of their operations: some
support, some seed money, some start-up money, on new programs. The newer
districts have needed this more than the older districts. In addition, DER
could contract with the water management districts to perform certain
functions that might be performed more efficiently on a local level. That
would be another way of funding part of the water management districts'
operations. But do not just delegate the responsibility; go ahead and
contract to fund some of these things. It is not a new thing. It is being
done now on a very limited basis on aquatic weeds and on Lake Jackson.

At one time, it was popular to talk about using user fees to fund all
of this; that is not a practical way to approach it. It is fine to attach a
fee so the person who is getting the permit can pay for the cost of processing
the permit. But then you find that most of the cost has been caused by the
need for additional data, and by the need to protect others. When you say to
some little farmer, "You are going to have to pay a $400, $500, or $1,000
fee," it really gets to be impractical. But there is language in the law that
says you must charge a fee to pay for all of the work. That also needs to be

And, there is the constitutional amendment that granted that taxing
does have a limitation for northwest Florida. I think it is probably
inappropriate to talk about the merits or demerits of that as far as the St.
Johns' law suit is concerned, but when Northwest Florida has a need to support
water management activities through ad valorem taxation, that constitutional
amendment could be passed very easily. It is in the law in such a way that it
could be struck very simply, and it would be something that I believe would be
supported by the remainder of the state.

We kicked around formulas for funding for quite some time, trying to
come up with some means of formularizingg" the activities of water management
districts. We have never come up with any formula that seems to apply to the
needs that you have. It is important that everyone recognize that since the
1885 Constitution was passed, there have been only two times that the people
of this state have voted additional taxes. One was when they voted for Reuben
Askew's corporate profits tax, approved during the general election, November
2, 1971. The other was for the establishment of water management district
taxing power in 1976. Prior to 1976, Southwest Florida Water Management
District had the authority to levy up to 1.3 mills and South Florida up to 1
mill, but in the 68th constitutional amendment these were either curtailed or
grandfathered in, so that other areas could not be granted the same authority.
The people, through the constitutional amendment in 1976, then voted an
additional tax in the northern portions of the state, in Sarasota and Manatee
counties, and in other areas. When people start suggesting that ad valorem
taxes are not generally popular, or that the voters are going to abolish
taxing for water management districts, they really have not stopped to
consider that just three years ago the voters indicated they approved of this
system. This was not an increase in the system; this was to continue what
already existed in two sections, and to allow it to occur in the remainder of
the state.

(..U _______

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