July 25, 2007
At its July 24 meeting, the Southwest Florida Water Management Districtís Withlacoochee River Basin Board adopted a fiscal year 2008 (FY2008) millage rate of 0.2308 mill, which is .03 less than the current fiscal year. This reduction is in accordance with the tax reduction mandated by the Florida Legislature.
The FY2008 millage rate has been set equal to 97 percent of the rolled-back rate in compliance with House Bill 1B, the tax reform legislation signed into law by Gov. Charlie Crist on June 21. The Basin Board has adopted its millage before July 31 so the Governing Board can set proposed millage rates for the District and the Basins in compliance with House Bill 1B.
The budget for FY2008 is $11,884,172, which is an increase of $1.66 million from the approved FY2007 budget. The increase is primarily due to a balance from prior years and revenue from the United States Department of Agriculture and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. FY2008 will run from Oct. 1, 2007, through Sept. 30, 2008.
The Withlacoochee River Basin Board area covers portions of Pasco, Hernando, Citrus, Sumter, Marion, and Levy counties.
For the owner of a $125,000 home with a $25,000 homestead exemption, the FY2008 Basin Board tax would be $23.08, or about $1.92 per month.
The Withlacoochee River Basin Boardís FY2008 budget includes cooperative funding projects. These projects are proposed by local governments, and usually equally funded by the Basin Board and the local cooperator. One of the projects is the Dade City Reclaimed Water Project.
The project consists of the design and construction of 13,500 linear feet of reclaimed water transmission line, the lining for an existing 10-million-gallon storage pond and a one-million-gallon reclaimed water storage tank and pump station.
This project will allow Dade City to provide reclaimed water to the Little Everglades Ranch. The city reached a 20-year agreement to provide reclaimed water to the Little Everglades Ranch, which will be used to irrigate the race track area and sod farm at the ranch.
This multi-year project, which is expected to cost up to $3.8 million, is expected to offset 300,000 gallons per day of ground water used for irrigation at the Little Everglades Ranch.
The Withlacoochee River Basin Board has agreed to provide $324,959 in FY2008, including $59,621 in funding from the stateís Water Protection and Sustainability Trust Funds. Future funding 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 Basin Boardís budget also includes $712,254 for the Water Supply and Resource Development program, which provides matching funds for the development of additional new regional sustainable water supplies.
One of the projects is the Pasco County State Road 52 East/West Regional Reclaimed Water Interconnect project. This multi-year project consists of the design and construction of approximately 84,480 linear feet of reclaimed water transmission line. The line will run north on U.S. Hwy. 41 from the entrance of the Connerton Development to State Road 52, then east along State Road 52, and south along McKendree Road to the Wesley Center Wastewater Treatment Facility.
The project is expected to provide approximately six million gallons of reclaimed water per day (mgd,) which will offset approximately three mgd of ground water.
This project is expected to cost $18.6 million. Funding will be divided between the District and Pasco County. District funding will be divided among the Coastal Rivers, Pinellas-Anclote River, Hillsborough River, and the Withlacoochee River Basins. In FY2008, the Withlacoochee River Basin Board has budgeted $186,806, including $62,000 in funding from the stateís Water Protection and Sustainability Trust Funds. Future funding 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. 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 Districtís Governing Board who serves as the Boardís chair ex officio.
The Districtís Governing Board will adopt proposed FY2008 millage rates for the Districtís General Fund and Basins at its July 31 meeting.
In September, the Governing Board will adopt millage rates for the Districtís General Fund and the eight Basin Boards after two statutorily required public Truth in Millage (TRIM) hearings have been held. 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 meeting to provide comment on the budgets.