St. Johns slashes budget 23 percent, Upper Basin project takes 20 percent cuts

COUNTY — The St. Johns River Water Management District will not be asking more in property taxes from Indian River County residents in the coming year, as the Governing Board voted Tuesday to cut the District’s costs by 23 percent to maintain its current millage rate of .4158 and a balanced budget.

The $284.48 million budget for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 would be funded with about $123 million from property taxes, a 10 percent ($13.6 million) reduction from the current year. The remainder coming from state, federal or other sources.

“In this challenging economy, the Board felt it was critical to keep our taxes low but also to make certain that we continue to fulfill our missions of environmental restoration and ensuring sustainable water supplies,” said Governing Board Chairwoman Susan N. Hughes of Ponte Vedra.

Under a 0.4158 millage rate – 41.58 cents for every $1,000 of assessed property value – the owner of a $200,000 house with a $50,000 homestead exemption would pay $62.37 per year in property taxes to the District. Many existing property owners will likely see a decrease in the amount they pay in taxes to the District.

“No layoffs or elimination of positions are planned,” said Ed Garland, spokesman for the District out of the Palm Bay office. Garland said the cuts are being managed by “tightening the reigns” while holding steady on the District’s core missions.

Budget highlights affecting Indian River County include:   

The Upper St. Johns River Basin program budget would be reduced by 20.5 percent due to the completion of surface water restoration projects in the basin. The tentative budget is $2.436 million. The upper basin runs through western Indian River County and encompasses the Blue Cypress Lake and Blue Cypress Water Management Area west of Fellsmere.

The Indian River Lagoon program budget would increase 1.2 percent to $25.2 million for two capital improvement projects, the C-1 rediversion and the Fellsmere Water Management Area projects.The Stormwater Cost-Share Program would be reduced by 37.8 percent.

Public hearings on the proposed budget will be held at 5:05 p.m. on Sept. 8 and Sept. 22. Final budget adoption will occur at the Sept. 22 meeting.

The District is responsible for regulating water use and protecting wetlands, waterways and drinking water supplies in all or part of Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Brevard, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Indian River, Lake, Marion, Nassau, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Putnam, St. Johns, Seminole and Volusia counties. For more information and comments from Board members, visit the District’s Web site at www.sjrwmd.com/boardnews.

 

 

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