Section 373.1963, Florida Statutes 2004
373.1963 Assistance to West Coast Regional Water Supply Authority.--
(1) It is the intent of the Legislature to authorize the implementation of changes in governance recommended by the West Coast Regional Water Supply Authority in its reports to the Legislature dated February 1, 1997, and January 5, 1998. The authority and its member governments may reconstitute the authority's governance and rename the authority under a voluntary interlocal agreement with a term of not less than 20 years. The interlocal agreement must comply with this subsection as follows:
(a) The authority and its member governments agree that cooperative efforts are mandatory to meet their water needs in a manner that will provide adequate and dependable supplies of water where needed without resulting in adverse environmental effects upon the areas from which the water is withdrawn or otherwise produced.
(b) In accordance with s. 4, Art. VIII of the State Constitution and notwithstanding s. 163.01, the interlocal agreement may include the following terms, which are considered approved by the parties without a vote of their electors, upon execution of the interlocal agreement by all member governments and upon satisfaction of all conditions precedent in the interlocal agreement:
1. All member governments shall relinquish to the authority their individual rights to develop potable water supply sources, except as otherwise provided in the interlocal agreement;
2. The authority shall be the sole and exclusive wholesale potable water supplier for all member governments; and
3. The authority shall have the absolute and unequivocal obligation to meet the wholesale needs of the member governments for potable water.
4. A member government may not restrict or prohibit the use of land within a member's jurisdictional boundaries by the authority for water supply purposes through use of zoning, land use, comprehensive planning, or other form of regulation.
5. A member government may not impose any tax, fee, or charge upon the authority in conjunction with the production or supply of water not otherwise provided for in the interlocal agreement.
6. The authority may use the powers provided in part II of chapter 159 for financing and refinancing water treatment, production, or transmission facilities, including, but not limited to, desalinization facilities. All such water treatment, production, or transmission facilities are considered a "manufacturing plant" for purposes of s. 159.27(5) and serve a paramount public purpose by providing water to citizens of the state.
7. A member government and any governmental or quasi-judicial board or commission established by local ordinance or general or special law where the governing membership of such board or commission is shared, in whole or in part, or appointed by a member government agreeing to be bound by the interlocal agreement shall be limited to the procedures set forth therein regarding actions that directly or indirectly restrict or prohibit the use of lands or other activities related to the production or supply of water.
(c) The authority shall acquire full or lesser interests in all regionally significant member government wholesale water supply facilities and tangible assets and each member government shall convey such interests in the facilities and assets to the authority, at an agreed value.
(d) The authority shall charge a uniform per gallon wholesale rate to member governments for the wholesale supply of potable water. All capital, operation, maintenance, and administrative costs for existing facilities and acquired facilities, authority master water plan facilities, and other future projects must be allocated to member governments based on water usage at the uniform per gallon wholesale rate.
(e) The interlocal agreement may include procedures for resolving the parties' differences regarding water management district proposed agency action in the water use permitting process within the authority. Such procedures should minimize the potential for litigation and include alternative dispute resolution. Any governmental or quasi-judicial board or commission established by local ordinance or general or special law where the governing members of such board or commission is shared, in whole or in part, or appointed by a member government, may agree to be bound by the dispute resolution procedures set forth in the interlocal agreement.
(f) Upon execution of the voluntary interlocal agreement provided for herein, the authority shall jointly develop with the Southwest Florida Water Management District alternative sources of potable water and transmission pipelines to interconnect regionally significant water supply sources and facilities of the authority in amounts sufficient to meet the needs of all member governments for a period of at least 20 years and for natural systems. Nothing herein, however, shall preclude the authority and its member governments from developing traditional water sources pursuant to the voluntary interlocal agreement. Development and construction costs for alternative source facilities, which may include a desalination facility and significant regional interconnects, must be borne as mutually agreed to by both the authority and the Southwest Florida Water Management District. Nothing herein shall preclude authority or district cost sharing with private entities for the construction or ownership of alternative source facilities. By December 31, 1997, the authority and the Southwest Florida Water Management District shall:
1. Enter into a mutually acceptable agreement detailing the development and implementation of directives contained in this paragraph; or
2. Jointly prepare and submit to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives a report describing the progress made and impediments encountered in their attempts to implement the water resource development and water supply development directives contained in this paragraph.
Nothing in this section shall be construed to modify the rights or responsibilities of the authority or its member governments, except as otherwise provided herein, or of the Southwest Florida Water Management District or the department pursuant to this chapter or chapter 403 and as otherwise set forth by statutes.
(g) Unless otherwise provided in the interlocal agreement, the authority shall be governed by a board of commissioners consisting of nine voting members, all of whom must be elected officers, as follows:
1. Three members from Hillsborough County who must be selected by the county commission; provided, however, that one member shall be selected by the Mayor of Tampa in the event that the City of Tampa elects to be a member of the authority;
2. Three members from Pasco County, two of whom must be selected by the county commission and one of whom must be selected by the City Council of New Port Richey;
3. Three members from Pinellas County, two of whom must be selected by the county commission and one of whom must be selected by the City Council of St. Petersburg.
Except as otherwise provided in this section or in the voluntary interlocal agreement between the member governments, a majority vote shall bind the authority and its member governments in all matters relating to the funding of wholesale water supply, production, delivery, and related activities.
(2) The provisions of this section supersede any conflicting provisions contained in all other general or special laws or provisions thereof as they may apply directly or indirectly to the exclusivity of water supply or withdrawal of water, including provisions relating to the environmental effects, if any, in conjunction with the production and supply of potable water, and the provisions of this section are intended to be a complete revision of all laws related to a regional water supply authority created under s. 373.1962 and this section.
(3) In lieu of the provisions in s. 373.1962(2)(a), the Southwest Florida Water Management District shall assist the West Coast Regional Water Supply Authority for a period of 5 years, terminating December 31, 1981, by levying an ad valorem tax, upon request of the authority, of not more than 0.05 mill on all taxable property within the limits of the authority. During such period the corresponding basin board ad valorem tax levies shall be reduced accordingly.
(4) The authority shall prepare its annual budget in the same manner as prescribed for the preparation of basin budgets, but such authority budget shall not be subject to review by the respective basin boards or by the governing board of the district.
(5) The annual millage for the authority shall be the amount required to raise the amount called for by the annual budget when applied to the total assessment on all taxable property within the limits of the authority, as determined for county taxing purposes.
(6) The authority may, by resolution, request the governing board of the district to levy ad valorem taxes within the boundaries of the authority. Upon receipt of such request, together with formal certification of the adoption of its annual budget and of the required tax levy, the authority tax levy shall be made by the governing board of the district to finance authority functions.
(7) The taxes provided for in this section shall be extended by the property appraiser on the county tax roll in each county within, or partly within, the authority boundaries and shall be collected by the tax collector in the same manner and time as county taxes, and the proceeds therefrom paid to the district which shall forthwith pay them over to the authority. Until paid, such taxes shall be a lien on the property against which assessed and enforceable in like manner as county taxes. The property appraisers, tax collectors, and clerks of the circuit court of the respective counties shall be entitled to compensation for services performed in connection with such taxes at the same rates as apply to county taxes.
(8) The governing board of the district shall not be responsible for any actions or lack of actions by the authority.
History.--s. 13, ch. 76-243; s. 1, ch. 77-174; s. 4, ch. 96-339; s. 30, ch. 97-160; s. 2, ch. 98-402.