Last year, Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature mandated budget cuts and property tax reductions for the districts. Last week, the Senate Budget Committee introduced a bill that would give the Legislature authority over the approval of the water management districts’ individual budgets.
A committee staff report on the bill stated it would continue a shift in the authority over budget decisions from appointed water management district governing board members to elected officials.
Some counties, including rural Taylor and Jefferson, have adopted resolutions that support the current structure of water management districts and press state officials to provide “adequate” funding for them. The resolutions also oppose a move to centralize control of water resources under the Governor’s Office or the Legislature.
Alachua County commissioners will consider a similar resolution on Tuesday.
“It’s setting the table for a much more politicized control of the water supply,” Commissioner Mike Byerly said of the Senate proposal.
Byerly said representatives of several environmental groups contacted him with a request for the county to take a stance on the proposed legislation.
The nonprofit Florida Conservation Coalition, founded by former Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, is one group against the legislation.
“This is the end of regional water management,” the group stated in a legislative update last week. “Period.”
Contact Christopher Curry at 374-5088 or [email protected]