Title: Letter
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/WL00002018/00001
 Material Information
Title: Letter
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
Abstract: Letter, To: James Lewis From: Donald Feaster Nov 7, 1975
General Note: Box 10, Folder 1 ( SF Taxation, ad valorem tax referendum-SWFWMD-1975 - 1975 ), Item 66
Funding: Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
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Bibliographic ID: WL00002018
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


Wat (

J. R. ORAW. Vice C
JOE E. HILL. Treasu

southwest Flrida
r Managemne t District

Chairman, Brooksville THOMAS VAN DER VEER, Secretary, Yankectown RONALD B. LAMBERT, Wauchula
chairman. Ocala S. C. EXLEY. JR., Land O'Lakes ROBERT MARTINEZ, Tampa
rer, Loesburg N. BROOKS JOHNS, Lakeland
CEeVED IFeer. Executive Director

B ,rLimm,. .-v

November 7, 1975

Mr. James K. Lewis
Staff Director
Senate Natural Resources Committee
414 Senate Office Building
Tallahassee, Florida 32304

Dear Jim:

The following is in response to your letter of
are in the same order as your questions.

October 20, 1975.

The comments

1. Southwest's current budget is based upon its existing taxing authority.
The following lists the District and basin budgets and resultant mill-
ages being assessed for FY-76:



Northwest Hillsborough
Pinellas Anclote


Total 12,276,750

The District millage is derived uniformly throughout SWFWMD while
villages are levied only within each respective bisin. The total
levied within any one basin is determined by addi g .15 (District
the millage of each basin.

rate) to

The tax bill for a home assessed at $20,000 and $40,000 within each basin
would be:




Mr. James K. Lewis
November 7, 1975
Page Two

Combined Taxes for Taxes for
Millage Rate $20,000 Valuation $40,000 Valuation

Alafia 0.84 12.60 29.40
Crystal-Homosassa 0.50 7.50 17.50
Hillsborough 0.80 12.00 28.00
Northwest Hillsborough 0.84 12.60 29.40
Oklawaha 0.25 3.75 8.75
Pinellas Anclote 0.27 4.05 9.45
Pithlachascotee 0.39 5.85 13.65
Waccasassa 0.37 5.55 12.95
Withlacoochee 0.43 6.45 15.05
Peace 0.35 5.25 12.25

These estimates include consideration for a $5,000 Homestead Exemption.

2. Should the amendment fail, the Legislature could:

A. Delay the transfers further in order to preserve the taxing authority
of SWFWMD and C&SFFCD and the ongoing water management programs sup-
ported by it.

B. Allow the transfer to take place and the current authority of the two
districts to finance vital water management programs through ad valorem
taxation to become void. This would occur assuming the Florida Supreme
Court rules against Southwest in its attempt to obtain a declaratory
decree on the question: will the transfer substantially alter the con-
Sfiguration of the District to the point that it will be considered a
new taxing district as defined by the Florida Constitution.

3. Our best estimate of the total amount being used of both ground and sur-
face fresh water as of 1970 is approximately 1167 mgd. Our best projection
of this figure through 1985 is approximately 1555 mgd. (These figures are
based upon a linear extrapolation of data provided by the U. S. Geological

4. Approval of the constitutional amendment on March 9 would not affect
Southwest's current water management efforts other than assuring there
will be a continuing source of funding for the important programs under-
way at this time. This is based upon the assumption that the Legislature
in it's 1976 session will authorize water management districts to levy
the ad valorem tax .that would then be permitted under the constitution.

The maximum tax levy of Southwest would be reduced from 1.3 mills to
1.0 mill. The level of funding that would be possible from this maxi-
mum limit would generally be adequate to continue its water management

5. Should the referendum fail and the Legislature take no action to further
delay the territorial transfers scheduled for December 31, 1976, South-
west will no longer have an ad valorem taxing authority to support its
water management effort beyond that date. Should operational funding of
Southwest be subsequently assumed by the State and shifted out of the

.. ,i, ,"-, rI I I' I r l- l r ]( ~ i1 1 <" i I i r + i i l l l i 1'

Mr. James K. Lewis *^
S November 7, 1975-
Page Three

direct local control of the respective basin boards, final decisions
determining which problems are to be addressed and the level of budgeting
needed to support the responsive efforts would no longer be made by those
subject to the taxes levied and those intimately familiar with the prob-
lems they are responsible for solving. Local problems would also have to
compete with a wide range of other problems with which the State is faced
for the limited funds available, a situation that would be less beneficial
and responsive to the residents of every basin in Southwest.

6. Under Chapter 373, Florida Statutes, the District is currently administer-
ing Part II, Permitting Consumptive Uses of Water; Part III, Regulation of
Wells; and Part IV, Management and Storage of Surface Waters.

7. The ability to continue to administer these programs is dependent upon
the availability of an alternate source of revenue if the constitutional
amendment fails, the transfers are not delayed, and Southwest's current
taxing authority is lost. Minimum projected cost for overall regulation
of water within Southwest for FY-76 is $611,845. Actual cost, however,
would be higher due to certain related costs being carried under a number
of corollary projects such as the U.S.G.S. Cooperative Program, Regional
Observation Monitoring Program (ROMP), Southwest's own data collection pro-
gram, and the State Water Use Plan which all tie indirectly back into the
regulatory effort. Should the referendum fail and Southwest were to sub-
sequently lose its taxing authority, these programs could not be carried
out without an alternate source of revenue at comparable levels.

8. There is no agency currently in this area with a staff complement capable
of administering these programs other than Southwest. This is not to say
such a staff could not be organized; however, this would not appear to be
in the public's best interest.

9. To continue its current projects and objectives in FY-77, Southwest would
require a revenue capability of $12,000,000 to $15,000,000.

10. If the amendment were to fail and the transfers carried out resulting in
Southwest's loss of taxing authority, the decrease in taxes that property
owners would be subject to could be considered a benefit to them if no
consideration is given to the value of the water management programs being
carried out in their behalf and by-and-large at their request.

Large water users such as public supply systems, phosphate industry, agri-
culturalists and citrus processors would also stand to benefit in the short
run because their use of water would not be regulated and the additional
costs they incur resulting from regulation would not be required.

In the long run, however, both the property owner and those subject to
regulation would suffer as degradation and depletion or flooding occurred.

11. Should the amendment fail and Southwest lose its taxing authority due'to
the transfers, it would be the average taxpayer who would suffer most,
ironically the same group who would defeat the referendum at the polls.
The basin board structure of Southwest guarantees taxpayers easy access
to those charged with the responsibility of administering the water man-
agement problems in their immediate area. It provides taxpayers, action


I I I 1 I I

. Mr. James .K. Lewis .
' November, 1975 f) .
ei fYour
*. 1 '- "

groups, local government, etc. the capability .to have direct input to
thbose making the decisions that will in turn directly affect their lives.
f-Southwest were to lose its source of tax revenue, these important
"d decisions would be made out of the local area by persons with relatively
.Iess access by. the average troubled citizen.

12. Ain informational packet providing background and explanation of the issues
iyvolved,-as they pertain to Southwest, is attached;

Any boundary problems that exist are being resolved between the concerned
S-districts at this time with the intention of presenting a mutually agreeable
S" proposal for the Legislature's consideration.

Southwest's boundary problems are basically in three areas:

a. Boundary Interface with C&SFFCD -- The statute would require a
-.number of very small (several sections or less) changes that would
create more administrative problems than it would solve hydrologic
'problems. Southwest proposes that these miniscule changes be deleted.

bb. Transfer of Oklawaha Basin -- As currently proposed transfer of
--basin would include part of a levy to be constructed in conjunction
'-"with Southwest's Green Swamp Flood Detention Area, an integral part
7-of the regional Four River Basins flood control project of which
Southwest is the local sponsor. Southwest proposes a minor altera-
_--tion to the proposed basin transfer to prevent transfer of parts of
a major project.. .. -. .

c. Transfer of Waccasassa Basin -- As the statute now requires, part
---of-the-Waccasassa Basin that contributes significantly to the With-
lacoochee River Watershed would be transferred to the Suwannee
District. Suwannee generally agrees that the hydrologic divide
between the two districts does not correspond with the boundaries
currently required by the statute. Southwest and Suwannee are
the process of determining a more appropriate and mutually accept-
able boundary for proposal to the Legislature in the near future.

One final point that should be mentioned pertains to the wording of the consti-
tution if the amendment is successful. As proposed, the constitution would
authorize the levy of an ad valorem tax "for water management purposes," but
there is no indication as to what agency or agencies are to be given this

Please let me know if we.can provide additional information or clarification
of what we have said here.

Very truly ours,

Executive Director

W. -.. --

; ^^^^C Iuthwewt FIorclda
S Water Managmcziet Distriot

DERRILL McATEER. Chiman. Brookswille THOMAS VAN DER VEER. Secreary.l
J. R. GRAW, Vice Ckairua. Ocal S. C. SEILEY, JR., Lamd OLuk te T
JOE E. HILL, Treasurer, Leesburg N. BRO'S JOHNS. Lakeland
DpM R. Faller. E 1 DirectWor
Nov 1ior n1


-- Senator Phil Lewis
Tampa Tribune, Sept. 17,,19,75

March 9, 1975, the date referred to by Senator Lewis, is the day Florida,
voters Will be asked to approve an'amendment to the Florida Constitution
that will permit the levy of an ad valorem tax throughout the State for
water management purposes. Senator Lewis is concerned because if the amendment
is not approved, the ramifications of its failure could have far reaching effects
upon Florida's most valuable asset -- its fresh water resource.

The purpose here is to offer a general awareness of the history and a basic

understanding of the issues involved.

Prior to 1972 there were two water management districts within the State,
the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SkWFID) and the Central and

Southern Florida Flood Control District (C&SFFCD). Both were originally created
as flood control agencies to build, in cooperation with the federal government,
regional projects designed to protect largeiurban areas.

In the 1960's both population and industrial growth in Florida began to
escalate at recotPd*ates. It became apparent that the nature of water-related

0 0
probTe~s vwould"be irsch more comprehensive than, those brought n, by flopdlng and
'the two water management districts became the primary agencies involved. 4,
r**.-a n '*du .inr g.. .. .
SBecause of the growth-related demands for more and more fresh water during
'a period when a large part of the State was being subjected to a serious long-term
,'drought, the Florida Legislature passed what is known as the Water Resources Act
D'of 1972. This Act expressed the Legislature's deep concern over the protection
ofFTlorida&'s fresh water resources as municipal, county and industrial demandss,
'*begaff-to competee foW fresh water from the.cheaper, but limited, local sources.
It broadened and strengthened the regulatory powers of the two existing water
management districts and established three more, putting every square mile of
the State under the jurisdiction of at least one water management district.

When the new districts were being established, it seemed logical from a
hydrologic-viewpoint to transfer parts of ,theexisting districts to the new
districts. These legislated boundary.changes to the two existing districts pro-
vided the basis for the problems that have resulted in the critical need for an
amendment to the Florida Constitution next March.

When the two existing districts were created, the Florida Constitution in
effect at that time permitted the Legislature to.,authorize each an navilorem
taxing capability, It was reasoned that water problems were for the most part
local or regional lin nature and, therefore,. the costs incurred in resoqV ing~ them
should be borne by those who would reap the benefits. Consequently, the.laws
that created the districts also established them as special taxing districts
with a limited ad valorem tax as their;primary source of revenue.

-n 1968, Ptidra voters approved major revisions to the State's,Copstttituon.
One of7 the new provisions-declared that property owners could.nolonger, be sub-
jected to taxes for new purposes without their explicit approval. Before a new



tax could be levied,;"t would requr ,4triaoertty of .those. who wmuld be smbected
to the tax to voti affirmatively for it.i 'And .sigificanly,, the taxzig iuthpe4ty
of all special taxing districts such as SWFWMD and C&SFFCD that were in existence
when the new Constitution went into effect was preserved. Only new districts
would be subject to the requirement.

IBy 1972,' the'ioteuS growth that had begun in'Florida in the mid-sixtles was
reaching a crescendoo and-alt the classic problems associated with unrestricted
expansion began to appear, not the least of which were tftose asl wiaktdeMjld .vter.

The two existing districts meanwhile had grown as greater responsibilities
were given them by the Legislature and as local water problems became regional
in scope. The major concerns of the water managers also became paradoxical. On
the one hand, as thousands of new residents crossed the State line eacb week,
developers were competing for the remaining waterfront property pn every major
lake and river. One promotional effort-asked, "Why )ive in Florida if ypu can't
live" on the water?"

Loss of natural floodplains and a growing incidence of structural damage due
to flooding was the inevitable result. Minor rait falls were beginningto bring
anguished cries for assistance as new Floridians .learned ith way Ata4t thhey
hid ibuft in what was once a floodplain. Problems were growing and 4n back of
everyone's mind remained the question, what's going to happen when a hurricane

On the other hand, record quantities of water for consumption were being
demanded. Consumption of more and more water broughtion by the tremendous influx
of people and industry was-eombined with a-continuing long-te"m drought and
tremendous stress:was put ei existing water supply.systems. .The4resul ti1g, cm-
petition"for new supplies between city county, alricalttiriadla4 ingijntegrests


under riedf the 'r~ed for an'overall plan for -water development andmore -effective
regulatfdnsi;. Thfs, generally, is whdn the Legislature stepp'ed in ti a.dassed'-)
the Water Resdurces'Act of)972. ; .

Thqe la is well designed and should bring about eventual resolution of these
major problems but the changes it prescribed to the boundaries of SWFWMD and
C&SFFCD raised an ominous question. If carried out, would the changesimean the
"gran.dfather" Status of the, two existing districts would be nullified and their
taxing c ability lost? The situation became increasingly complex as more ques-
tions followed. How would the numerous and vitally important flood control con-
servation, regulatory and other water management programs spread over the southern
"hailf of F16rida be financed? How would it affect completion of the multi-million
dollar federal projects which require extensive local participation and mainten-
"ance? WoFtld the State have to take ove the funding of these projects and could
it afford the (approximate) $30 million annual- burden represented by the current
budgets of the existing districts, as well as the additional funding that would
be necessary for the new districts? And most significantly, if the State were
'to assume this funding responsibility, would it mean the broad water..management
powers and responsibilities now vested in regional and local Basin Boards would
then be shifted' from local to State control? :;

In 1975, faced with a growing need for effective management of the State's
water resource but with no funds to support it, the Legislature postponed
implementation of the boundary changes until a more definitive analysis of
thpf taxing problem was available and the quest i son could be further clarified
by judicial review. In January 1975, SWFWND initiated a suit with Hernando
County in order to'obtain.a declaratory decree fro- the Florida Sipreme Court.
Thequestion was;basically: will the District'schange of boundary terminate
its grandfather status and cause It to lose its ad valorem taxing power?

4 -


When the law was originally passed by the Legislature, jt wasi eyer dreamed
the funding-of these critically needed programs would.be jeopardized or
Sthe approximate $30 million program now being carried by the two districts
d be unexpectedly thrown upon the State.


SEvery person knowledgeable about the water problems occurring ;n southwest
and southeast Florida knows that water management is one of the most importait
functions of government today and that it is going to become mare so throughout
the rest of the State as population continues its historic climb upward. Manage-
ment and protection of the State's water resources are its lifeblood. Without
continuous attention by trained scientists its delicate qualitative and quantita-
tive balances would be destroyed, and the cities and industries that depend so
heavily upon It would decline disastrously. State governmental leaders realize
this and have assigned responsible water management to the five districts. Failure
of the Constitutional amendment would prevent a predictable source of funding to
be realized by the three new districts and remove that now available to'the two
current districts. The result would eventually be felt by every Florida resident

today, as well as in the future.
-5 -

.i r

'Presiding Judge E, .C Aulls t a ieitfgrg-held Aprill :9, t175,.i 1 e
Circutt Court of ,the Fifth Judicial, Circuit of Hernando County,ruledtb ,th thg,

proposed boundary changes would so materially revise the.configyralion.qf,.,
SWPt4f thatt it'would no longer be the special taxing district it was before
the Florida Constitution was revised In 1968. In other words, if the boundary
changes mandated by the Water Resources Act of 1972 were to be carried out, the
numerous flood control, water supply and water resource protection eFforts'of
bot districts would either be thrown into limbo or be put under the exclusive

ntro ls of the State. SWFiMD is currently Ift the apple late procpr i'af : t-
tin$ the question before the Florida Supreme Court.


in 'nIddition, all involvement and individual input now bai-ngR,eBjoyqd by t.he

avbragh citlzen't1rdugh the various Basin and Governing Beoads .,oyer.,-when and how
water problems are to be solved would be lost if, the aendment fails and the
transfers are allowed to take place. Local water management problems would have
to compete, with e6ther statewide problems for the limited am0,t ,of tax dollars
avahlibte. "Apprivil of the amendment will assure the many importa.tqwpter, mnage-
etnt programs needed throughout: the State will be possible; as, logjh residents
defIi anhd be t their~ Finally, the amendment's approval would preve~tth! e use
1 kdq 9or* VSWAA of tw oP f -te -tatoe Japow-sa nidto. pay4e r*y-P e pw fgnf

'another. i ,. ., -


A vote for the amendment in SWFWMD's case will mean a reduction in the

rillagq allowed by the current law. For example, SWFWMD now has a maximum tax-
ing capability of 1.3 mills for water management purposes. This District is com-
prised of all or parts of some 15 of the 68 counties 4- the State. q&S5F.F .
currently has a maximum taxing capability of 1.0 mill and covers all or parts
,of another 18 counties. Between the two districts they include roughly:

.. ,.-% of the St4te'4 .total population
43% of the State's total land area
56% of the State's taxable property

The current allowable taxlevy. would not.be i crease .d in jhte twog.djtricts-.
A Sd since the Cotsstitutiona-l Anendment would limit tth tax levy tp a maximum of
only 1.0 Iill ,ithe m ixium- for S lWMWFwhich is now 1.3 mills uld,.actuallj y be
reduced. In other wrwas, a vote: r--fthe sndmet.iby SWF IIA r.s4idpnts would, be
a vote for a reduction in' themaximum allowable pillage. AJdditionally, a vpte

-6- 6 i i

It I 0

for the amendntent by C&SFFCD residfhit would be a..vote,for. simply umintajinng
their -currentl1.0 maximum .il4age needed for vital wateramnsagepent pyrposP .


No matter what is said, water-related problems will, continue, to exist as
Florida grows. Rapidly expanding populated areas are fast approaching the limits
of their individual water systems causing serious water shortages. As the

poW9t1fi irieaM 'essowffT the-inebed for -oia es nd S .Wi ttg 1s4*0 t Uhi nat
must vie for the remaining land areas which many times are natural floodplains
and frequently flooded.

Water shortages and flooding are only two major water-related problems.

From this "tip of the gator's nose" the problems of water management spread into
the lives of every Floridian as does the need to resolve them. fesotuif t
these.highly involved and controversial matters takes money, money thai can only
come from one source --taxes. It is axiomatic that the further a taxpayer gets
from his tax dollar, the less control he has over why, how and w ere tt will be

The SWFWD today operates on what is.known as the &as1n "Boad Concept which

allows every District resident an opportunity to stay directly involved. There
is a Basin Board for each of the ten watershed basins of which SWFWMD is comprised.
Every member appointed to a basin board is a resident of a county within the
basin's limits whether the county is all or just partly within its area (each
basin is aligned along natural watershed areas such as the Peace River Basin,
Hillsborough River Basin, Withlacoochee River Basin, etc.). And each county must
be represented on the Board.


0 0
Each basinboard has the responsibility to determine what ,problems extst.
within its area and to develop a'budget that addresses those problems. 'Taxes
collected by the basin board can only be spent for purposes that will directly
benefit that basin. Members on the basin boards have traditionally been prominent
long-time residents of the counties they represent and are intimately familiar
with the local problems they are called upon to resbive.

A vote fpr the amendment will preserve this basin board concept that is
basic to premises upon which this country was built.

March 9, 1976, is the day you, as a Florida voter, will be asked to decide
if you will support an amendment to the Florida Constitution that will permit a
tax not to exceed 1.0 mill for water management purposes. The Southwest Florida
Water Management District is confident that if you look into the issues involved
you will vote in favor of the amendment. You are sincerely urged to investigate
and become familiar with the facts and to vote your convictions. Should you have
any questions or seek additional information about this important matter, please
feel free to call E. D. Vergara at (94) 796-7211 .or wite to SWFW4MD, Post Office
Box 457, Brooksi1lle, Fl6rida 335l2. :


I '

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