The Future of SWFWMD Policy
Title: The Future of SWFWMD Policy
Discussion Group Leaders: Albert Joerger and Roy Mazur
SWFWMD is funded mainly through permit fees, Ad valorem, and interest. Declining revenue has prompted the needs for budget cuts. SWFWMD set a goal to cut 20% of their spending.
In looking for areas of their budget to cut, SWFWMD is focused on gaining efficiencies. As a result, no major programs were eliminated and they don’t anticipate that any will in the future to accommodate their revenue shortfall.
SWFWMD has a budget of approximately $150 million. $100 million is used to operate; the remainder is used to fund projects. Over the next few years, SWFWMD aims to maintain a fund for projects at around $40 million.
Will SWFWMD move toward a model of public private partnerships?
- SWFWMD will consider all tools available in order to accomplish their mission goals for the public. An interesting develop to monitor is the Central Florida Water Initiative, where the South, Southwest, and St Johns Water Management Districts are working together on regulator and planning issues.
Will education continue to be a focus for SWFWMD?
- Education is important to SWFWMD, but it may not be as well funded as it was in the past. Redundancies of effort will be examined as will be questions pertaining to whether certain education is the District’s role or a utility’s role. Other criteria for evaluating education programs will be whether the proposed program is an enhancement of an existing program (e.g., do they already do it in-house).
What are some of SWFWMD surface water projects going on?
- In Flatford Swamp, there is too much freshwater. SWFWMD is working to remove some of that freshwater and purpose it for drinking or industrial uses. This program is going to design phase and may have a 3-5-7 year timetable. Other projects will involve the NEPs.
How much staff did you end up cutting?
- In addition to the 100 previous positions cut, staff was reduced from 764 to 614.
What is the impact of the loss of the Basin Boards?
- From what they have seen so far, not much.
Has SWFWMD stopped buying land? What is the status of the “surplus land” program?
- SWFWMD has not made a decision to stop buying land, but is pausing to reevaluate its portfolio to ensure its holdings are performing the way they it wants them to perform. This reassessment will lead to a determination of which properties may be classified as “surplus land” and considered for sale. A list of these “surplus lands” for the Sarasota area will be available online March 7.