Section 373.59, Florida Statutes 2008
373.59 Water Management Lands Trust Fund.--
(1) There is established within the Department of Environmental Protection the Water Management Lands Trust Fund to be used as a nonlapsing fund for the purposes of this section. The moneys in this fund are hereby continually appropriated for the purposes of land acquisition, management, maintenance, capital improvements of land titled to the districts, payments in lieu of taxes, debt service on bonds issued prior to July 1, 1999, debt service on bonds issued on or after July 1, 1999, which are issued to refund bonds issued before July 1, 1999, preacquisition costs associated with land purchases, and the department's costs of administration of the fund. The department's costs of administration shall be charged proportionally against each district's allocation using the formula provided in subsection (8). Capital improvements shall include, but need not be limited to, perimeter fencing, signs, firelanes, control of invasive exotic species, controlled burning, habitat inventory and restoration, law enforcement, access roads and trails, and minimal public accommodations, such as primitive campsites, garbage receptacles, and toilets. The moneys in the fund may also be appropriated to supplement operational expenditures at the Northwest Florida Water Management District and the Suwannee River Water Management District, with such appropriations allocated prior to the allocations set out in subsection (8) to the five water management districts.
(2) Until the Preservation 2000 Program is concluded, each district shall file with the Legislature and the Secretary of Environmental Protection a report of acquisition activity, by January 15 of each year, together with modifications or additions to its 5-year plan of acquisition. Included in the report shall be an identification of those lands which require a full fee simple interest to achieve water management goals and those lands which can be acquired using alternatives to fee simple acquisition techniques and still achieve such goals. In their evaluation of which lands would be appropriate for acquisition through alternatives to fee simple, district staff shall consider criteria including, but not limited to, acquisition costs, the net present value of future land management costs, the net present value of ad valorem revenue loss to the local government, and the potential for revenue generated from activities compatible with acquisition objectives. The report shall also include a description of land management activity. However, no acquisition of lands shall occur without a public hearing similar to those held pursuant to the provisions set forth in s. 120.54. In the annual update of its 5-year plan for acquisition, each district shall identify lands needed to protect or recharge groundwater and shall establish a plan for their acquisition as necessary to protect potable water supplies. Lands which serve to protect or recharge groundwater identified pursuant to this paragraph shall also serve to protect other valuable natural resources or provide space for natural resource based recreation. Once all Preservation 2000 funds allocated to the water management districts have been expended or committed, this subsection shall be repealed.
(3) Each district shall remove the property of an unwilling seller from its plan of acquisition at the next scheduled update of the plan, if in receipt of a request to do so by the property owner. This subsection shall be repealed at the conclusion of the Preservation 2000 program.
(4) The Secretary of Environmental Protection shall release moneys from the Water Management Lands Trust Fund to a district for preacquisition costs within 30 days after receipt of a resolution adopted by the district's governing board which identifies and justifies any such preacquisition costs necessary for the purchase of any lands listed in the district's 5-year plan. The district shall return to the department any funds not used for the purposes stated in the resolution, and the department shall deposit the unused funds into the Water Management Lands Trust Fund.
(5) The Secretary of Environmental Protection shall release to the districts moneys for management, maintenance, and capital improvements following receipt of a resolution and request adopted by the governing board which specifies the designated managing agency, specific management activities, public use, estimated annual operating costs, and other acceptable documentation to justify release of moneys.
(6) If a district issues revenue bonds or notes under s. 373.584 prior to July 1, 1999, the district may pledge its share of the moneys in the Water Management Lands Trust Fund as security for such bonds or notes. The Department of Environmental Protection shall pay moneys from the trust fund to a district or its designee sufficient to pay the debt service, as it becomes due, on the outstanding bonds and notes of the district; however, such payments shall not exceed the district's cumulative portion of the trust fund. However, any moneys remaining after payment of the amount due on the debt service shall be released to the district pursuant to subsection (5).
(7) Any unused portion of a district's share of the fund shall accumulate in the trust fund to the credit of that district. Interest earned on such portion shall also accumulate to the credit of that district to be used for management, maintenance, and capital improvements as provided in this section. The total moneys over the life of the fund available to any district under this section shall not be reduced except by resolution of the district governing board stating that the need for the moneys no longer exists. Any water management district with fund balances in the Water Management Lands Trust Fund as of March 1, 1999, may expend those funds for land acquisitions pursuant to s. 373.139, or for the purpose specified in this subsection.
(8) Moneys from the Water Management Lands Trust Fund shall be allocated to the five water management districts in the following percentages:
(a) Thirty percent to the South Florida Water Management District.
(b) Twenty-five percent to the Southwest Florida Water Management District.
(c) Twenty-five percent to the St. Johns River Water Management District.
(d) Ten percent to the Suwannee River Water Management District.
(e) Ten percent to the Northwest Florida Water Management District.
(9) Moneys in the fund not needed to meet current obligations incurred under this section shall be transferred to the State Board of Administration, to the credit of the fund, to be invested in the manner provided by law. Interest received on such investments shall be credited to the fund.
(10)(a) Beginning July 1, 1999, not more than one-fourth of the funds provided for in subsections (1) and (8) in any year shall be reserved annually by a governing board, during the development of its annual operating budget, for payments in lieu of taxes for all actual tax losses incurred as a result of governing board acquisitions for water management districts pursuant to ss. 259.101, 259.105, 373.470, and this section during any year. Reserved funds not used for payments in lieu of taxes in any year shall revert to the Water Management Lands Trust Fund to be used in accordance with the provisions of this section.
(b) Payment in lieu of taxes shall be available:
1. To all counties that have a population of 150,000 or fewer. Population levels shall be determined pursuant to s. 11.031.
2. To all local governments located in eligible counties and whose lands are bought and taken off the tax rolls.
For properties acquired after January 1, 2000, in the event that such properties otherwise eligible for payment in lieu of taxes under this subsection are leased or reserved and remain subject to ad valorem taxes, payments in lieu of taxes shall commence or recommence upon the expiration or termination of the lease or reservation, but in no event shall there be more than a total of 10 annual payments in lieu of taxes for each tax loss. If the lease is terminated for only a portion of the lands at any time, the 10 annual payments shall be made for that portion only commencing the year after such termination, without limiting the requirement that 10 annual payments shall be made on the remaining portion or portions of the land as the lease on each expires. For the purposes of this subsection, "local government" includes municipalities, the county school board, mosquito control districts, and any other local government entity which levies ad valorem taxes.
(c) If sufficient funds are unavailable in any year to make full payments to all qualifying counties and local governments, such counties and local governments shall receive a pro rata share of the moneys available.
(d) The payment amount shall be based on the average amount of actual taxes paid on the property for the 3 years preceding acquisition. Applications for payment in lieu of taxes shall be made no later than January 31 of the year following acquisition. No payment in lieu of taxes shall be made for properties which were exempt from ad valorem taxation for the year immediately preceding acquisition.
(e) If property that was subject to ad valorem taxation was acquired by a tax-exempt entity for ultimate conveyance to the state under this chapter, payment in lieu of taxes shall be made for such property based upon the average amount of taxes paid on the property for the 3 years prior to its being removed from the tax rolls. The water management districts shall certify to the Department of Revenue those properties that may be eligible under this provision. Once eligibility has been established, that governmental entity shall receive annual payments for each tax loss until the qualifying governmental entity exceeds the population threshold pursuant to s. 259.032(12)(b).
(f) Payment in lieu of taxes pursuant to this subsection shall be made annually to qualifying counties and local governments after certification by the Department of Revenue that the amounts applied for are reasonably appropriate, based on the amount of actual taxes paid on the eligible property, and after the water management districts have provided supporting documents to the Chief Financial Officer and have requested that payment be made in accordance with the requirements of this section. With the assistance of the local government requesting payment in lieu of taxes, the water management district that acquired the land is responsible for preparing and submitting application requests for payment to the Department of Revenue for certification.
(g) If a water management district conveys to a county or local government title to any land owned by the district, any payments in lieu of taxes on the land made to the county or local government shall be discontinued as of the date of the conveyance.
(11) Notwithstanding any provision of this section to the contrary, the governing board of a water management district may request, and the Secretary of Environmental Protection shall release upon such request, moneys allocated to the districts pursuant to subsection (8) for purposes consistent with the provisions of s. 373.0361, s. 373.0831, s. 373.139, or ss. 373.451-373.4595 and for legislatively authorized land acquisition and water restoration initiatives. No funds may be used pursuant to this subsection until necessary debt service obligations, requirements for payments in lieu of taxes, and land management obligations that may be required by this chapter are provided for.
History.--ss. 3, 5, ch. 81-33; s. 36, ch. 83-218; s. 5, ch. 85-347; s. 4, ch. 86-22; s. 8, ch. 86-294; s. 13, ch. 90-217; s. 11, ch. 91-288; s. 13, ch. 92-288; s. 277, ch. 94-356; s. 1, ch. 95-311; s. 6, ch. 95-349; s. 21, ch. 95-430; s. 17, ch. 96-389; s. 25, ch. 97-94; s. 17, ch. 97-160; s. 14, ch. 97-164; ss. 27, 38, ch. 98-46; s. 172, ch. 99-13; ss. 26, 53, ch. 99-228; s. 38, ch. 99-247; s. 18, ch. 2000-170; s. 58, ch. 2000-171; ss. 39, 41, 53, 54, ch. 2001-254; s. 23, ch. 2001-256; s. 12, ch. 2003-2; s. 385, ch. 2003-261; s. 12, ch. 2003-394; s. 1, ch. 2004-280; s. 32, ch. 2006-26; s. 11, ch. 2008-5; s. 18, ch. 2008-229.