Here's the May 24th official communication from the district announcing the firing of the Basin Board Members “in order to increase efficiency.”
So much for local control over how much you will be taxed and upon what those taxes will be spent! If I get the drift here, the basins all together must have on hand, meaning in the bank, $40 million for cooperatively funded projects (not sure if this includes funds from the District fund which is a uniform tax levy across the district). Now the Governing Board, comprised of members from across the district and controlled out of Tallahassee, will decide who gets that money and how it will be spent as opposed to folks from your basin.
Also notice the estimated savings of “$350,000 - $400,000” proposed to be saved by doing away with those pesky, inefficient basin boards. Okay, maybe so. In the greater scheme of things, however, that’s a mere pittance and a small price for keeping local control of hundreds of millions over multiple years.
Last point. I was looking at the district’s current budget recently and saw where the Inspector General’s office had a budget of $440,000. Now, I have no complaints about the Inspector General who worked there when I did or the fact that the legislature forced the district to put one there. But, good grief, that’s a one-person office. If there’s such a demand for greater efficiency, that’s one place they could have looked instead of tossing out the 40-plus unpaid volunteers who have been guiding the district in local needs and limiting taxes for 50 years.
I know it sounds like harping, but everything we see points evermore toward a Tallahassee scheme to gain control of the district’s authority to levy a property tax for purposes that will be directed from Tallahassee. Here’s the media release:
Governing Board Approves Resolution to Merge the District’s Eight Basin Boards
In order to increase efficiency of operations and reduce costs, the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board approved a resolution today to merge the budgets of the District’s eight Basin Boards into the Governing Board, while keeping a reduced Cooperative Funding Initiative to fund regional projects.
The District’s eight Basin Boards provided guidance for local programs and projects that were specific to the watershed basin they protected. Through the Cooperative Funding Initiative, the Basin Boards worked with local governments and organizations on water resource projects that benefited local communities. Half of the money for these projects came from the Basin Boards and the other half came from the local government or local cooperator.
Merging the eight Basin Boards into the Governing Board is expected to save $350,000 to $400,000 annually.
Under the proposed FY2012 budget, $40 million will remain available for cooperatively funded projects throughout the District’s 16-county region. The funding will be administered by members of the District’s Governing Board.
“Through the Cooperative Funding Initiative, the Basin Boards have played an integral role in the District’s ability to implement water resources projects at the local level and to involve residents, organizations and local governments,” said Dave Moore, District executive director. “We are committed to continuing the work of the Basin Boards through cooperative funding and other initiatives.”
Basin Board meetings scheduled in June will be canceled and future meetings will no longer be held.
By the way, I have yet to receive a copy of the actual resolution requested on May 24. If and when I get it, you'll see it.