June 16, 2006

At its June 14 meeting, the Southwest Florida Water Management Districtís Manasota Basin Board adopted a proposed fiscal year 2007 (FY2007) millage rate of 0.160 mill, which is the same as the current fiscal year.

The proposed budget for FY2007 is $22,943,451, which is an increase of $2,707,918 from the approved FY2006 budget. The main reason for this increase is additional revenue anticipated from the state Water Protection and Sustainability program for alternative water supply development assistance. FY2007 will run from Oct. 1, 2006, through Sept. 30, 2007.

The Manasota Basin Board area includes Manatee and Sarasota counties.

For the owner of a $125,000 home with a $25,000 homestead exemption, the FY2007 Basin Board tax would be $16, or about $1.33 per month.

The Manasota Basin Boardís proposed FY2007 budget includes Cooperative Funding projects. These projects are proposed by local governments, and are usually funded equally by the Basin Board and the local cooperator. One of the Manasota Basin Boardís Cooperative Funding projects is the Wares Creek watershed project in Manatee County, which will help control flooding.

The Wares Creek watershed is a 6.23 square mile watershed in Manatee County that drains into the Manatee River. This watershed has significant flooding problems. Improvements include widening the channel and stabilizing the banks. These improvements will provide additional capacity within the stream bank, which will address structure flooding along Wares Creek by providing flood protection for homes currently inundated and damaged during the 10-year flood event. The improvements will begin where the creek and the Manatee River meet and end at Cortez Road.

This project is a joint effort between Manatee County and the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). The total cost of this project is $55.2 million. The USACEís share is $24.5 million. The Districtís share of the funding is $14.3 million, which is from the Manasota Basin Board. The county is also contributing $14.3 million. Additional funding includes $2.2 million from the Florida Department of
Environmental Protection.

Of the Basin Board funding, $2 million is tentatively budgeted for FY2007 for land acquisition, easement expenses, and the non-federal share of construction, which includes dredging of the lower Wares Creek between the Manatee Avenue bridge and the Manatee River.

The Basin Boardís proposed budget also includes $4.3 million for the Water Supply and Resource Development program, which provides matching funds for the development of additional new sustainable water supplies.

One of the Water Supply and Resource Development projects is the Myakka River Watershed Initiative, which will give the District the scientific foundation to restore the natural systems, improve flood protection, water quality and investigate future alternative water supply sources within the watershed.

This multi-year funded project will involve collecting the regionís topographic information, a watershed evaluation and developing a watershed management plan for the Myakka River Watershed. A focus is to develop combined restoration and alternative water supply projects where feasible. The watershed occupies approximately 600 square miles within DeSoto, Manatee, Sarasota, and Charlotte counties and discharges into Charlotte Harbor, a Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) program water body.

The total cost for these three elements is estimated at approximately $4.7 million. In February, the Districtís Governing Board transferred $500,000 from the Water Supply and Resource Development reserves to hire consultants to obtain digital topographic information in eastern Manatee County and to initiate the water budget analysis for the Upper Myakka watershed. A water budget analysis determines how much water is available from each different source and how it used. The FY2007 funding, which is $2.1 million, will continue the Upper Myakka water budget analysis, the watershed evaluation for the entire watershed, and initiate the Watershed Management Plan element. The FY2007 funding is divided as follows: $599,083 from the Governing Board, $538,321 from the Manasota Basin Board, $68,729 from the Peace River Basin Board, and $850,000 from 2006 legislative appropriations. Additional funding
in future fiscal years is contingent upon Basin Board approval.

The District has eight regional Basin Boards that provide guidance for local programs that are specific to the watershed basins they protect. The Districtís ninth 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. The Manasota Basin Board includes three members from Manatee County and three members from Sarasota County. Each of the Districtís Basin Boards has at least one of the 11 members of the Districtís Governing Board that serves as the Boardís chair ex officio.

The Districtís Governing Board will adopt proposed millage rates for the Districtís
General Fund and the eight Basin Boards at its monthly meeting in June at the Districtís Brooksville headquarters. These millage rates will be used by county property appraisers when mailing out Truth In Millage (TRIM) notices to residents.

Two statutorily required public TRIM hearings on the Districtís total budget will be held in September. The first will be Sept. 12 at 5:01 p.m. at the Districtís Tampa Service Office.

The Governorís office will review and approve the budgets of all five water management districts before the second and final public hearing. The Districtís second and final TRIM hearing will be Sept. 26 at 5:01 p.m. at the Districtís 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 comment on the proposed budgets.

 
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