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June 7, 2007

At its June 6 meeting, the Southwest Florida Water Management Districtís Pinellas-Anclote River Basin Board adopted a proposed fiscal year 2008 (FY2008) millage rate of 0.375 mill, which is .025 lower than the current fiscal year.

In the event that a tax reduction is mandated by the Legislature during its special session later this month, the Basin Board has authorized the Executive Director to recalculate its millage rate to reflect the change in revenue prescribed by the Legislature.

The proposed budget for FY2008 is $46,673,177 which is an increase of $5,288,049 from the approved FY2007 budget. The main reason for this increase is an anticipated $3.9 million in state funding through the State Water Protection and Sustainability Trust Fund and an increase in interest earnings. FY2008 will run from Oct. 1, 2007, through Sept. 30, 2008.

The Pinellas-Anclote River Basin Board area includes Pinellas County and the southern portion of Pasco County. For the owner of a $125,000 home with a $25,000 homestead exemption, the FY2008 Basin Board tax would be $37.50, or about $3.13 per month.

The Pinellas-Anclote River Basin Boardís proposed FY2008 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. As an example, the Clearwater Skycrest Reclaimed Water Project is a Basin Board Cooperative Funding project that will provide reclaimed water service to approximately 500 residential and commercial customers. The project will also interconnect Clearwaterís three wastewater treatment plants, allowing the city to use its reclaimed water supply more efficiently.

This project involves the design and construction of reclaimed water transmission lines, distribution piping and a five million gallon (mg) storage tank with a high-service pump station.

This multi-year project is expected to cost $10,838,000, with the District and the City of Clearwater sharing the costs equally. The District and the city have each tentatively budgeted approximately $3,906,500, including $1,440,000 in Water Protection and Sustainability Trust Funds for FY2008. Future funding is contingent upon basin board approval.

The Basin Boardís tentative budget also includes $9.4 million for the Water Supply and Resource Development program, which provides matching funds for the development of additional new sustainable water supplies.

The Pasco County Wet Weather Reclaimed Water Reservoir Ė Boyette project, which is being funded through the Water Supply and Resource Development program, will supply up to 5,500 additional residential customers with reclaimed water.

This project involves constructing a reservoir on the old Boyette Mine property. The 140-acre parcel is located approximately one mile northeast of the Wesley Center Wastewater Treatment Facility. The reservoir will be built to store up to 600 million gallons of reclaimed water from the countyís reclaimed water system.

This project involves the design, permitting and construction of the reservoir.
The construction phase of this project is scheduled to begin in May 2008 and is expected to be completed within a year. This project is expected to provide an average of 3.3 million gallons of water per day (mgd), which will offset approximately 1.65 mgd of potable water.

Because this project is part of a regional effort to increase the use of reclaimed water, the $18.55 million project will receive funding from the Districtís Coastal Rivers, Hillsborough River and Pinellas-Anclote River basin boards and the Districtís Governing Board. In FY2008, the basin boards have each budgeted $500,000, while the Governing Board has budgeted $1.5 million and Pasco County has budgeted $3 million, which includes $1.2 million in Water Protection and Sustainability Trust Funds. Funding for future fiscal years is contingent upon basin board approval.

Reclaimed water is wastewater that has received at least secondary treatment and is used for a beneficial purpose, such as irrigation. By offsetting demand for ground water and surface water, this alternative, non-traditional water source reduces stress on environmental systems, provides economic benefits by delaying costly water system expansions, and eliminates the need to discharge wastewater effluent to surface waters.

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. 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 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 a special budget meeting July 12 at the TECO Center at Natureís Classroom in Thonotosassa. 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 Districtís total budget will be held in September. The first will be Sept. 11 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. 25 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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