Polk Water Planners Seek Changes In State Law On Taxes, Spending

Tuesday night’s Polk Regional Water Cooperative meeting in Bartow will include an introduction to something called the Heartland Headwaters Protection and Sustainability Act.

It is draft legislation that has not been filed, according to the Florida Legislature’s website. There’s no word on potential sponsors.

The key elements of the legislation, posted in the agenda packet at http://www.prwcwater.org/ involve persuading the Florida Legislature to fund water supply projects in Polk in exchange for filing annual reports outlining what Polk officials are doing to further water planning, conservation, stormwater management and environmental restoration.

The proposed change in Florida law also would allow local discretionary sales taxes to be spent by the Polk Regional Water Cooperative for water supply development if voters approve the sales tax increase.

The copy of the draft bill posted on the cooperative website (see pages 133-143 in the agenda backup) may need some editing to clear up some confusing language in the findings and intent section.

It refers to the Green Swamp Area of Critical State Concern, but appears to claim Bartow lies within the Green Swamp, which it doesn’t. It also refers to the headwaters of the Alafia River, which lies in Polk County, but nowhere near the Green Swamp. There is no mention of Polk’s portion of the headwaters of the Kissimmee River, a small portion of which begins at the edge of the Green Swamp.

Posted in Group Conservation Issues.