South Florida Water Management District approves budget, tax rate for upcoming fiscal year

Tyler Treadway Treasure Coast NewspapersPublished 5:50 PM EDT Sep 22, 2020The South Florida Water Management D

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The South Florida Water Management District plans to spend over $1 billion in the coming year, most of it to improve water quality, reduce harmful Lake Okeechobee discharges to the St. Lucie River and send more water south to the Everglades. 

And the district plans to do it with a lower property tax rate than last year.

The district board Tuesday approved a $1.2 billion budget for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 and  a property tax rate of $26.75 for every $100,000 of taxable value to help pay for it.

Under the tax rate for fiscal year 2020-21, the owner of a $250,000 house with the standard $50,000 homestead exemption would pay $53.50 in taxes to the district in fiscal year 2020-21.

For fiscal year 2019-20, the district had a budget of $972.3 million and a property tax rate of $27.95 for every $1,000 of taxable value, or $55.90 on a $250,000 home with a homestead exemption.

More: Legislature bumps up district's FY 2019-20 budget

The bulk of the new budget, $759 million, 62%, will go toward land acquisition, restoration and public works including over 130 water quality projects.

More: Construction begins on EAA reservoir project

More: Linking canal to reservoir will help clean St. Lucie River

The rest of the $1.2 billion budget:

  • $759 million (62%): Land acquisition, restoration and public works
  • $335 million (27%): Operations and maintenance
  • $68.4 million (6%): Water resources planning and monitoring
  • $22.3 million (2%): Regulations
  • $1.2 million (less than 1%): Outreach

Here's where the $1.2 billion will come from:

  • State sources: $549 million (45%)
  • Fund balance: $316.7 million (26%)
  • Property taxes: $228.3 million (23%)
  • Revenues: $46.2 million (4%)
  • Agriculture privilege tax: $11 million (1%)
  • Federal sources: $9.4 million (1%)

The district has had budgets over $1 billion before, including $1.28 billion in fiscal year 2007-08, when the state was planning to buy out the U.S. Sugar Corp.

The sale didn't go through, primarily because the recession beginning in 2008 cut state and district revenues considerably.

Tyler Treadway is an environment reporter who specializes in issues facing the Indian River Lagoon. Support his work on  Contact him at 772-221-4219 and
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