The South Florida Water Management District Governing Board adopted a $749.6 million budget on Tuesday for fiscal year 2016. The budget includes $6.9 million for design of the Mecca Shallow Impoundment within the Indian Trail Improvement District, and the Lainhart and Masten conveyance improvements for the Loxahatchee River within the South Indian River Water Control District.
The Mecca Shallow Impoundment, currently in preliminary design, will replace water coming from the 45,000-acre-foot L-8 Reservoir to restore water flow to the federally designated National Wild and Scenic Northwest Fork of the Loxahatchee River, and reconnect the area’s wetlands and watersheds.
The SFWMD annual budget funds the agency’s core flood control and water supply missions, as well as its continued progress to restore and protect the South Florida ecosystem.
“We have a robust budget that supports flood control and hurricane response, improves Everglades water quality, protects the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries, and meets water resource needs,” said SFWMD Governing Board Chair Daniel O’Keefe. “These goals were achieved with a continued commitment to maintain lower taxes for South Floridians for a fifth consecutive year.”
Nearly 84 percent of the district’s 2016 budget is dedicated to enhancing operations, maintaining lands and $13 billion of infrastructure, and advancing ecosystem restoration goals.
The 2016 budget supports implementing the next phases of Gov. Rick Scott’s $880 million Restoration Strategies plan to improve Everglades water quality, including $46 million to increase capacity at Stormwater Treatment Area (STA) 1 West and $9 million to continue implementation of the Science Plan to help improve the water cleaning performance of the STAs.
A host of priority projects will provide significant benefits to South Florida’s extensive flood control system and protect coastal estuaries, including:
• $55.7 million for continued refurbishment of South Florida’s flood control system.
• $27.7 million for design and initial construction of the Caloosahatchee River C-43 Western Basin Storage Reservoir.
• $45.6 million for construction progress on the C-44 Reservoir and STA to protect the St. Lucie River and Estuary.
• $7.2 million for construction and repairs to the Ten Mile Creek project.
• $31.4 million for Kissimmee River restoration.
The approved budget contains a significant infusion of state revenues, totaling $126.6 million, appropriated by the Florida Legislature this year to continue and to accelerate the pace of restoration progress.
The district’s annual budget is funded by a combination of property taxes and other revenues, such as state appropriations, federal and local sources, balances, fees, investment earnings and agricultural privilege taxes. For 2016, $266.9 million (about 36 percent of total revenues) will be provided by property taxes, and $226.4 million are from accumulated reserves.
The approved millage rates for 2016 represent $35.51 per $100,000 of taxable value in 15 of the district’s 16 counties (the Okeechobee Basin). In Collier County and mainland Monroe County (the Big Cypress Basin), the tax rates represent $28.88 per $100,000 of taxable value. For more info., visit www.sfwmd.gov.