Budget cuts prompt Water Management District to cut five positions
Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. announced last week that after months of cooperation between DEP and the state’s five water management districts, the districts’ budgets reflect a year-over-year reduction of more than $700 million. The budgets are a product of a renewed focus, as directed by Governor Rick Scott, on the water management districts’ core mission responsibilities of water supply, flood protection, water quality and natural system protection.
The Suwannee River district would be left with a $56.5 million budget after $9.4 million in cuts including elimination of five positions that would reduce its staffing to 63.
DEP has worked collaboratively with the water management districts to review, revise and realign their operations, practices and budgets. District and DEP staff worked diligently to find and implement reductions which include employee salaries and benefits, staffing levels, debt avoidance and other operational costs not related to core-mission projects. Despite these reductions, the districts will continue to manage and protect Florida’s water resources with more than $1 billion in the next fiscal year.
“Effective and efficient water management is essential to a healthy economy and a healthy environment,” said Secretary Vinyard. “These budget reductions are an important first step in ensuring that the water management districts focus on their core environmental missions, and the reductions reflect a significant savings for Florida taxpayers.”
Last week, Gov. Scott sent letters to the water management districts calling for additional reductions. The reductions amounted to $2.4 million statewide which include deferred compensation payments and additional salary and benefits reductions.
Per 373.536 Florida Statutes, each district budget will be submitted to the Legislative Budget Committee for further review. Each water management district governing board will vote on their budget at the end of September.
On April 12, 2011, Gov. Scott directed DEP to exercise its statutory obligation to supervise activities of the state’s five water management districts, including their water supply and regulatory activities, to ensure statewide consistency and efficiency is achieved. Gov. Scott and DEP have taken action and provided guidance to bring water management district operations more in line with today’s economic climate and ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent in a prudent and transparent manner.
To view the tentative budgets in detail and additional information, please visit: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/secretary/watman/wmd_budget.htm