Title: Senators State Cases on Water Management
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/WL00002122/00001
 Material Information
Title: Senators State Cases on Water Management
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
Abstract: Senators State Cases on Water Management, Feb 18, 1976
General Note: Box 10, Folder 2 ( SF Taxation, ad valorem tax referendum-SWFWMD-1976 - 1976 ), Item 74
Funding: Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
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Bibliographic ID: WL00002122
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

C- 7 -" .. L--.-- -

Senators state cases

on water n


- I am outlining below my reasoning
for supporting the referendum concern-
ing ad valorem tax funding for water
management districts.
Simply stated, it is my feeling that
the day of satisfactory water manage-
ment in Florida will come quicker and
on a sounder basis if the ad valorem
referendum is passed this March. This
referendum authorizes a millage cap of
I mill on the bulk of pensinular Florida,
with the exception that the Northwest
Florida Water Management District is
authorized a limitation of 1/20th of a
NO TAXES CAN be levied in any of
the districts without enabling legisla-
tion from the legislature. Thus, if the
referendum is passed in March, the
legislature will be forced to face up to
the enabling responsibilities.
Some of the specific problems which
the legislature must address will be
such things as:
(1) The opportunity to refine the
creation and definition of basin boards
within all districts;
(2) The creation of a coordinated ap-
proach between the water management
districts and the planning agencies of
the state;
(3) A more clearly defined
relationship concerning water quality
between the Department of En-
vironmental Regulation and the water
management districts;
(4) Mbdification of presently
proposed boundaries of some basins to
more correctly represent the com-

munality of interest by proper
hydrological boundaries.
valorem tax base for financing water
management districts will mean that
the agricultural interests of Florida
and the people of Florida will be
represented by a local board. This type
of local control is essential. If this
doesn't exist, permitting and other
functions will be more likely to end up
in the bureaucratic morass of Tallahas-
see. It can best be maintained with
local ad valorem taxes and is less apt to
be maintained if water management
districts are funded from general
There simply aren't funds in general
revenue to replace the current ad
valorem taxes in Central and South
Florida and the Southwest Water
Management Districts. One must ask
what other funding alternatives are
there. Some would respond with a con-
sumptive use tax. At this point I find
that highly objectionable. Any general
revenue that goes to fund the water
management districts will of necessity
force increased taxes of some other
kind or will minimize other programs.
the burden on the beneficiary and is
thus a very fair tax. It forms the basis
to maintain local control as to how the
monies are actually spent and this is
certainly the desirable feature.
In summary, I would conclude with a
thought that now is the best time to
create ad valorem taxation authority
and this creation offers the single
greatest opportunity for the farmer to
exercise the local control of water
management which he currently enjoys
in Peninsular Florida.

Ft.** I 1976


I oppose the proposed Constitutional
amendment creating a standard ad
valorem tax for water management,
not because of dissatisfaction with the
Water Management Districts, but
because I believe that the question of
how we finance the water manage-
ment districts should not be consid-
ered in isolation from the other issues
which remain unresolved in water
management. The proper way to
finance water management may turn
out to be entirely different, depending
on the way the other issues are re-
solved, and we are getting "the cart be-
fore the horse" in attempting to deal
S with funding at this time.

MY FIRST CONCERN has to do with
the absence of a uniform policy for
S governance and allocation of costs
within the water management dis-
tricts. The basis of this concern can be
seen in a comparison of the policies of
Southwest Florida Water Management
District with those of the Central and
Southern Water Management District.

In the Southwest Florida Water
Management District (SWFMD), sepa-
rate boards have been established in
each river basin. SWFMD utilizes dif-
ferent levels of taxation in the sepa-
rate river basins,'and the river basin
boards assure input on questions
involving taxes, as well as the level of
services and other basic policy ques-
IN CONTRAST,'the policy of the Cen-
tral and Southern Water Management
District is that water management
problems are district-wide. For this
reason Central and Southern has not
seen fit to establish separate river
basin boards nor to utilize differential
levels of taxation.

At present there is no existing stat-
wide policy on the question of alloca-
tion of costs, or local input through the
establishment of river basin boards.
The establishment of river basin
boards each of which has strong input
on the levy of tax millage in its area, is
a guarantee of fairness in the alloca-
tion of costs. This policy should be
mandated by state for all of the water
management districts before the Con-
s situation is amended to allow state-
wide levy of ad valorem taxes.

In my view, it is merely a matter of
time until the water management
boards are re-apportioned. At that point,
the importance of separate river basin
boards with a voice in decisions con-
cerning the millage levy will become
much more apparent. Indeed, if this is-
sue is not addressed prior to re-apportion-
ment of the water management boards,
it is foreseeable that the policy within
SWFMD could be reversed, so that all
of the water management district
would be like Central and Southern.
with the relationship between the
water management districts and, the
other agencies with responsibility for
planning. I do not believe that the man-
agement of water can properly be con-
sidered as a separate issue from the
management of our other natural and
man built resources. My approach
would be to require each planning com-
munity to live within its own re-
sources, or to identify and able and
willing to support the cost of exceeding
these limitations.
The various pieces of planning legis-
lation passed by the Florida Legisla-
ture during recent years have been ex-
cellent. Indeed, we are as far along as
any jurisdiction of which I am aware. A
major shortcoming exists, however, in
the lack t any meaningful provision
f or coordination between planning en-

titles. Nowhere is this more apparent
than in water management.

Our existing statutes make little or
. no provision for coordination between
the water management districts and
regional planning councils. One exam-
ple is the D.R.I. process, where the
water management districts are not
even involved. Thus, they legitimately
argue that they are not consulted when
development decisions are made, and
should not be held accountable for the
results. In fact, given the ill-defined
roles of regional and state planning
agencies, it is difficult to see how any-
one can fairly be held accountable for
the results.

with taxing policy. I believe the ad
valorem tax is essentially a local tax
and that it should be reserved for those
functions of government which are
essentially local in nature. The ad
valorem tax is under severe pressure
already, largely because we have pre-
empted it as a funding for the public
school system, which I view as a state
-responsibility. It is a mistake to further
encumber the ad valorem tax to fund
water management districts. In es-
sence we are further pre-empting the
taxing power of local government in
order to found a function which is pri-
marily a responsibility of state govern-

The way we finance our public school
system is a good case in point. We are
deriving approximately $500 million
dollars each year from the property tax
for public school purposes. At thesame
time, however, the state through its
various revenue sharing programs, is
having to replace these property tax
dollars by distributing approximately
$500 million dollars of state tax revenue
each year to local government. If we
further encumber the property tax to
the extent of an additional $74 million
dollars (the approximate value of 1
mill statewide), it is unrealistic to as-
sume that we will not again be re-
quired to increase state aid to local
government by an off-setting amount.

Finally, I consider it irresponsible
and unwise to adopt a Constitutional
amendment which limits the ad
valorem tax to 1/20th of a mill in north-
west Florida, while authorizing a tax of
20 times as high in the rest of the State.
Even if my other arguments are dis-
regarded entirely, this alone is suffi-
cient reason to oppose the amend-

authority and the responsibility to deal
with these problems. We should spell
out by statute the role and authority of
river basin boards, as well as the role
and authority of regional planning
councils, and the relationship of these
various agencies to state and local
government. After these questions are
resoI ed,we should consider the fund-
ing question. At that point, an effort
should be made to differentiate be-
tween those aspects of water manage-
ment which are a state responsibility
(to be funded from state revenue
S sources), those which are local respon-
sibilities (to be funded from ad valor-
em tax revenues), and those which are
of benefit to individual property own-
ers (to be funded from user fees).
In closing, I want to express my
appreciation to Florida Citrus Mutual
for the manner in which it has ap-
proached this issue. My hope is that
Mutual's members will take the time to
inform themselves fully before casting
their votes. If so, regardless of the out-
come, the members of Citrus Mutual
will have done their part.




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