The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board on Tuesday approved the District's $813.9 million budget for fiscal 2018-2019, which begins Oct. 1.
"This budget invests millions in flood control to protect 8.1 million South Florida residents through maintenance and improvements to our flood control system," said Governing Board Vice Chair Melanie Peterson. "Additionally, it provides a significant investment to restore Florida's Everglades through the funding of construction projects. The budget also rewards our employees for their hard work and keeps their health insurance premiums from rising. Once again, the District's budget accomplishes all of this without increasing taxes."
The Governing Board passed a "rolled back" property tax rate that takes advantage of the increases in property values and new construction to generate tax revenue. The reduced rate for the 15 counties of the Okeechobee Basin is $29.36 for every $100,000 of taxable value, down from $31. The reduced tax rate for the Big Cypress Basin in Collier County is $24.40 for every $100,000 of taxable value, down from $25.45. The budget is also funded by $337.1 million in state funding.
More than half the expenditures under this budget are dedicated to restoration and public works. This includes $146 million to continue work on the massive Caloosahatchee (C-43) West Basin Storage Reservoir in Hendry County, protecting the Caloosahatchee River and Estuary. The budget also includes $36 million to further Gov. Rick Scott's ambitious Restoration Strategies plan to complete Everglades water quality restoration and $61 million for dispersed water management partnerships that store water on public and private lands.
Approximately $283 million is dedicated to operations and maintenance of land and works. This includes $62 million to refurbish and maintain elements of the District's flood control system and $30 million to fight invasive plants and animals on District-owned land.
In the Big Cypress Basin (BCB), the $15.2 million budget includes $5.6 million to construct capital projects and $3.4 million to operate BCB's flood control system in Collier County.
"The BCB Board is proud to once again serve Collier County families and businesses and advance necessary capital projects for restoration through the passing of the 2018-2019 budget," said SFWMD Governing Board Member and Big Cypress Basin Governing Board Chairman Rick Barber.