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June 14, 2010

At its June 9 meeting, the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Pinellas-Anclote River Basin Board adopted a proposed fiscal year 2011 (FY2011) millage rate of 0.2900 mill, which is 0.03 mill less than the current fiscal year.

This is the fourth consecutive year the Pinellas-Anclote River Basin Board has lowered the Basin’s millage rate. These reductions coincide with the completion of major water supply and resource development projects for the region. The next major projects are not anticipated to be needed for several years.

This millage rate, combined with a reduction in property values as estimated by the Pinellas and Pasco county property appraisers, will result in an estimated $4 million decrease in ad valorem property tax revenue from FY2010. These estimates will be updated when the property appraisers release their certified taxable property values in July.

Since FY2007, the Pinellas Anclote River Basin Board has decreased its millage rate each year — from 0.4000 for FY2007 to the proposed millage rate of 0.2900 adopted for FY2011. The millage decreases combined with declining property values is estimated to result in ad valorem revenue for FY2011 that is 44 percent less than the taxes levied for FY2007.

“I think it’s important that we are responsive to the taxpayers,” said Todd Pressman, Pinellas-Anclote River Basin Board co-chair. “A significant reduction is absolutely necessary in these times.”

The proposed budget for FY2011 is $30,653,797, which is a decrease of $7,595,257 from the approved FY2010 budget. The main reason for this decrease is due to the reduction in ad valorem revenue and a reduction in available balances from prior years. FY2011 will run from Oct. 1, 2010 through Sept. 30, 2011.

The Pinellas-Anclote River Basin Board area includes Pinellas County and the southern portion of Pasco County. For the owner of a $150,000 home with a $50,000 homestead exemption, the FY2011 Basin Board tax would be $29, or about $2.42 per month.

The District has seven regional Basin Boards that provide guidance for local programs that are specific to the watershed basins they protect. The District’s eighth basin, the Green Swamp, is administered by the Governing Board. Basin Boards work with local governments and other entities on water resource projects that have an impact in local communities. Basin Boards often provide partial funding for these projects in partnership with a local government or local cooperator.

Basin Board members are unpaid citizen volunteers appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. They serve three-year staggered terms. Each of the Basin Boards includes a minimum of one person from each county within the basin, and there must be at least three members on each Board. Each Basin Board has at least one of the 13 members of the District’s Governing Board that serves as the Board’s co-chair.

The District’s Governing Board will adopt proposed millage rates for the District’s General Fund and the Basin Boards at its monthly meeting in July at the District’s Brooksville headquarters. These millage rates will be used by county property appraisers when mailing out Truth in Millage (TRIM) notices to residents. The Basin Boards will meet again in August to adopt their final millage rates and budgets.

Two statutorily required public TRIM hearings on the District’s total budget will be held in September. The first will be Sept. 14 at 5:01 p.m. at the District’s Tampa Service Office.

The Governor’s office will review and approve the budgets of all five water management districts before the second and final public hearing.

The District’s second and final TRIM hearing will be Sept. 28 at 5:01 p.m. at the District’s Brooksville headquarters. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Governing Board will formally adopt the final millage rates and budgets. The public is welcome to attend any Governing Board or Basin Board meetings to provide comments on the proposed budgets.

 
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