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July 27, 2007

At its July 26 meeting, the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Hillsborough River Basin Board adopted a fiscal year 2008 (FY2008) millage rate of 0.2547 mill, which is .0303 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 $18,049,024, which is a decrease of $3.03 million from the approved FY2007 budget. The decrease is primarily due to less available balance from previous years. FY2008 will run from Oct. 1, 2007, through Sept. 30, 2008.

For the owner of a $125,000 home with a $25,000 homestead exemption, the FY2008 Basin Board tax would be $25.47, or about $2.12 per month.

The Hillsborough River Basin Board area covers portions of Hillsborough, Pasco and Polk counties.

The Hillsborough River Basin Board’s FY2008 budget includes funding for cooperative funding projects. These projects are proposed by local governments, and are usually funded by the Basin Board and the local cooperator. One of the Hillsborough River Basin Board’s cooperative funding projects is the Duck Pond watershed project, which will help control flooding near the University of South Florida.

The 2,860-acre watershed, which drains into the Hillsborough River via Lake Poinsettia, experienced heavy flooding during Hurricane Frances. Model results show that the hurricane almost matched the model design of what would happen during a
25-year/24-hour storm event. Heavy rainfall, culvert blockage, and undersized conduits downstream contributed to the flooding.

This multi-year funded project addresses these issues by constructing stormwater pumping facilities, a stormwater management storage area, erosion and sedimentation controls, and conveyance improvements. Funding includes the design, development of construction documents, construction permitting, land acquisition, bidding and contractor selection, construction, engineering and inspection.

The total cost of the multi-year project is $9.3 million. The Hillsborough River Basin Board’s share of funding is $3.6 million, which includes $300,000 from the State Water Protection and Sustainability Trust Fund for surface water restoration. The Hillsborough River Basin Board has tentatively budgeted $1 million in FY2008 for the project.

The Basin Board’s budget also includes $4.63 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 in the budget is the Pasco County Wet Weather Reclaimed Water Reservoir – Boyette project, which 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 county’s 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 District’s Coastal Rivers, Hillsborough River and Pinellas-Anclote River Basin Boards and the District’s Governing Board. In FY2008, the Basin Boards have each budgeted $600,000, while the Governing Board has budgeted $1.8 million and Pasco County has budgeted $3 million. These amounts include $1.2 million in the State Water Protection and Sustainability Trust Fund. 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 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 13 members of the District’s Governing Board that serves as the Board’s chair ex officio.

The District’s Governing Board will adopt the proposed millage rates for the District’s General Fund and Basin Boards at its July 31 meeting.

In September, the Governing Board will adopt millage rates for the District’s 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 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 meeting to provide comment on the budgets.

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