House committee will look at oversight of Water Management Districts
Rep. Charles Van Zant, a Republican from Palatka, wants the House's Select Committee on Water Policy to take a closer look at the state's Water Management Districts. Van Zant said board members should be elected and required to live in the districts instead of being appointed by the governor. Under the current system, board members are often out of touch with the people who live in the community and may make decisions without their best interests in mind, he said. He also said the district budgets, funded by property tax money, should be reviewed by the House of Representatives and not just the Senate. "They should not have taxing authority. I guarantee you there are many abuses in how they go about conducting their business," Van Zant said in an interivew after the meeting.
Committee chair Trudi Williams, a Republican from Fort Myers, said the group would likely take a closer look at the districts in the coming weeks, and their budgets should have more scrutiny. But she disagreed with the notion that board members should be elected. "It's a bad idea," she said, noting that open elections could mean board positions would be filled solely by lawyers or solely environmentalists. "You need a balance."