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Water management district to shake things up after lower revenue

The Suncoast News
Published:   |   Updated: May 7, 2013 at 06:18 PM
BROOKSVILLE -

Southwest Florida Water Management District will undergo organizational restructuring with about $3 million less in property tax revenue in the current budget.

"We are committed to providing the greatest value to the taxpayer," Executive Director Blake Guillory said in a press release. "By implementing new business processes we have found opportunities to improve our efficiency and further reduce our operational costs."

The district employs 617 full-time workers, Guillory explained. The district, based in Brooksville, determines water policy for the 16-county region.

Restructuring could affect about 30 employees in phases during the next nine months. Most cutbacks will come from the administrative, technology support and management staff.

Organizational changes include creation of a Project Management Office for greater efficiency and effectiveness of more than 400 projects.

Guillory also anticipates hiring about 15 additional scientific and engineering staff this year. They would support the district's groundwater and surface water modeling work as well as its springs and water quality initiatives.

"We've identified some areas in which we can use some additional expertise to meet our core mission," Guillory commented. "Our pool of technical experts has eroded during the last decade with employees retiring or leaving for the private sector. This restructuring will ensure that we have a high level of scientific expertise to manage and protect the water resources of the region."

Late last month, the water district adopted its fiscal year 2013 millage rate and budget that went into effect Monday.

The millage rate stayed the same at 0.3928 mill. Because taxable property values declined by 2.9 percent, this rate resulted in a $3 million reduction in ad valorem property tax revenue.

The total budget, however, rose to $159.5 million, 2.5 percent higher than last fiscal year's budget of $155.5 million. The $3.9 million increase primarily will go toward requests from local governments for water resources projects.

The budget increase comes from leftover balances from prior years due to the cancellation of projects or projects completed under budget.

The budget includes $83.2 million for capital, infrastructure and other projects.

With discounts from its partners, the district will invest the equivalent of more than $132 million for projects.

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