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June 11, 2007

At its June 8 meeting, the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Peace River Basin Board adopted a proposed fiscal year 2008 (FY2008) millage rate of 0.195 mill, which is the same as the current fiscal year.

Further, 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 $16,755,731 which is an increase of $778,749 from the approved FY2007 budget. The increase is primarily due to an estimated increase in property tax revenue due to growth in property values. FY2008 will run from Oct. 1, 2007, through Sept. 30, 2008.

The Peace River Basin Board area includes Hardee, DeSoto and portions of Polk, Highlands and Charlotte counties. For the owner of a $125,000 home with a $25,000 homestead exemption, the FY2008 Basin Board tax would be $19.50, or about $1.63 per month.

The Peace River Basin Board’s FY2008 proposed 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 Peace River Basin Board’s cooperative funding projects is the Dundee Reclaimed Water Use System Project, which will bring reclaimed water to approximately 1,821 residential customers and several commercial customers within Dundee.

The project includes the construction of 18,800 linear feet of reclaimed water transmission main line, a high-service pump station and two 2.25-million gallon storage tanks.

This project will provide approximately 370,000 gallons of reclaimed water per day (gpd) for irrigation. This reclaimed water is expected to offset the need for potable water for irrigation by 185,000 gpd.

The total cost is expected to be $4 million. The town has submitted this project for Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) consideration. REDI funds are available to communities with demonstrated economic disadvantages. Traditional cooperative funding projects are a 50/50 cost share. REDI projects are a 25/75 cost share.

Because this is a REDI project, the District has agreed to fund approximately $3 million. In FY2006, the District’s Peace River Basin Board committed $205,774 in financial assistance to the project and has included $558,090 in its proposed budget for FY2008, including $136,867 in funds from the State Water Protection and Sustainability Trust Fund.

Dundee is responsible for $1 million and any costs that exceed $4 million. The town is seeking additional outside funding to complete the project, which is expected to be finished by December 2009.

The Basin Board’s proposed budget also includes $4.49 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 Charlotte County Regional Reclaimed Water Expansion project, which will bring reclaimed water to several Charlotte County schools and many other customers in Port Charlotte.

The Charlotte County Regional Reclaimed Water Expansion project consists of constructing approximately 62,100 linear feet reclaimed water transmission line to transport reclaimed water from the Charlotte County East Port Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF) west through Port Charlotte.

When complete, this multi-year project will provide up to 1,272,500 gpd of reclaimed water, which will offset about 954,000 gpd of potable water being used for irrigation.

The project is expected to cost $7.2 million. Because this project is part of a regional effort to increase the use of reclaimed water, the Peace River Basin Board has included $656,273 in its proposed FY2008 budget, including $218,176 in funds from the State Water Protection and Sustainability Trust Fund. Prior to FY2008, the District has contributed $1.25 million, plus an additional $400,000 from the State’s Water Protection Sustainability Trust Fund. Future funding is contingent upon board approval.

Charlotte County has budgeted $3.2 million for this project.

This project is expected to be completed by March 2009.

The District has eight regional Basin Boards that provide guidance for local programs that are specific to the watershed basins they protect. The District’s 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 District’s Governing Board that serves as the Board’s chair ex officio.

The District’s Governing Board will adopt proposed millage rates for the District’s General Fund and the eight Basin Boards at a special budget meeting July 12 at the TECO Center at Nature’s Classroom in Thonotosassa. 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 District’s total budget will be held in September. The first will be Sept. 11 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. 25 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 comment on the proposed budgets.

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