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SJRWMD Board votes to reduce tax rate

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PALATKA – The St. Johns River Water Management District's Governing Board on July 8 approved a tentative budget that reduces the millage rate for taxpayers and funds major District initiatives, including projects to protect the region's springs and improve water quality in the Indian River Lagoon and St. Johns River.

The tentative 0.3164 millage rate would result in $81.8 million in revenue that would be part of a total $141.9 million budget for fiscal year 2014-2015, which begins Oct. 1, 2014. The budget also is funded through state, federal and other District sources (including timber sales, cattle leases, interest earnings and permit fees).

The millage rate adopted by the Board is approximately 3.6 percent less than the current year's tax rate.

Under a 0.3164 millage rate -- 31.64 cents for every $1,000 of assessed property value -- the owner of a $200,000 house with a $50,000 homestead exemption would pay $47.46 in the coming year in property taxes to the District.

"The tentative budget will allow the District to continue the momentum on its strategic priorities and to implement critical projects that will result in greater protection for our springs and improved water quality in surface waters," said Governing Board Chairman John Miklos of Orlando. "We are maximizing our financial and technical resources through dozens of partnership projects with local governments, utilities and other entities."

The tentative budget includes $22 million in cost-share funding for construction of projects that will help to develop traditional and alternative water supplies, conserve water and reduce nutrient loading in springsheds and other water bodies. Another $8 million is designated for other cooperative agreements with government partners, including reclaimed water and stormwater projects, water conservation, muck removal and restoration activities.

Major projects included in the tentative budget concentrate on District initiatives supporting minimum flows and levels prevention and recovery strategies, springs protection and water quality protection in the Indian River Lagoon, the Northern Coastal Basins and the middle and lower St. Johns River basins. The tentative budget also includes funding for:

  • Completion of the Fellsmere Water Management Area and the final phase of the Canal 1 Rediversion Project in Brevard and Indian River counties, which are among the final components of the Upper St. Johns River Basin Project
  • Construction of the 1,300-acre C-10 Reservoir in Brevard County, which will provide additional water storage and treatment and nutrient reduction benefits
  • Construction of Lower Floridan aquifer wells, which will help to expand data collection to support priority District initiatives

Public hearings will be held at 5:05 p.m. on Sept. 9 and 23. Final budget adoption will occur at the Sept. 23 meeting.