Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Water management district Swiftmud to shed up to 150 employees

The state agency that oversees water supplies in the 16 counties around Tampa Bay will shed 130 to 150 of its 768 employees by early next year, its board decided Tuesday.

Employees of the Southwest Florida Water Management District will be offered a voluntary separation plan that will be available for 45 days. If that doesn't work, then involuntary layoffs will follow in January or February, officials at the agency commonly known as Swiftmud announced.

The reason for the cutback: This spring, Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature slashed how much Swiftmud could collect in taxes. As a result, the Brooksville-based agency has already cut its budget to 44 percent of what it was last year, but still faces a potential $30 million budget shortfall by 2013, agency officials say.

That means choosing between cutting environmental programs or cutting staff, according to newly hired Swiftmud executive director Blake Guillory. He chose to cut staff.

"The more quickly we can get right-sized for our budget and workload, the faster we can move forward, secure in our jobs, to meet the water resource challenges of this district," Guillory, an engineer with no previous experience running a government agency, said in a news release.

Guillory presented his plan for restructuring the agency to its governing board Tuesday, and the board approved it. The plan is expected to save Swiftmud more than $15 million per year.

Swiftmud is supposed to meet the water needs of current and future water users while protecting and preserving the water resources in an area that covers about 10,000 square miles of west-central Florida. It's one of the state's five water management districts — all of which have been undergoing major upheavals since Scott took office this year.

In August, after ordering cuts that totaled about $700 million from all five districts, Scott said he wanted the agencies to slash their budgets further. Scott ordered cuts at Swiftmud totaling $4.2 million more. He cut $2.4 million from Swiftmud's reserve fund and took the rest out of salaries.

The governor said then that those additional cuts "are just the first steps in ensuring that Florida's precious water resources are protected and managed in the most fiscally responsible way possible."

"It's a dark day for Florida's water resources," Audubon of Florida's Charles Lee said then.

The remaking of Swiftmud really took off with the arrival of Guillory, who started the first week of October. He immediately sent two of his deputy executive directors and the agency's longtime attorney packing, and then demoted a third deputy director.

Guillory himself has taken a pay cut. He was making $175,000 a year at the engineering firm Brown & Caldwell, but Scott has told all five water management districts he wants their executive directors' salaries capped at $165,000.

Craig Pittman can be reached at [email protected]

Water management district Swiftmud to shed up to 150 employees 10/25/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 25, 2011 10:09pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa Bay small businesses give Tampa B+ for regulatory climate


    In a recent survey about small business sentiments toward state and local government policies that affect them, Tampa Bay ranked at No. 25 out of 80 — a B+ overall.

    Tampa Bay ranked No. 25 out of 80 in a recent survey about how small business owners feel about state and local government policies that affect them. | [Times file photo]
  2. Dirk Koetter to Bucs: Take your complaints to someone who can help


    TAMPA — It was just another day of aching bellies at One Save Face.

    Dirk Koetter: “All of our issues are self-inflicted right now.”
  3. Seminole Heights murders: fear and warnings, but no answers


    TAMPA — Interim Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan elicited loud gasps from the crowd of about 400 who showed up at Edison Elementary School on Monday night to learn more about the string of unsolved killings that have left the southeast Seminole Heights neighborhood gripped by fear.

    Kimberly Overman, left, comforts Angelique Dupree, center, as she spoke about the death of her nephew Benjamin Mitchell, 22, last week in Seminole Heights. The Tampa Police Department held a town hall meeting Monday night where concerned residents hoped to learn more about the investigation into the three shooting deaths over 11 days in southeast Seminole Heights. But police could give the crowd at Edison Elementary School few answers. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  4. Juvenile justice reform seen as help for teen car theft problem


    ST. PETERSBURG — One of Tampa Bay's largest religious organizations has decided to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year.

    One of Tampa Bay's largest religious organizations, Faith & Action for Strength Together (FAST), voted Monday night to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year. FAST believes civil citations could help Pinellas County?€™s teen car theft epidemic by keeping children out of the juvenile justice system for minor offenses. [ZACHARY T. SAMPSON  |  Times]
  5. U.S. general lays out Niger attack details; questions remain (w/video)


    WASHINGTON — The U.S. Special Forces unit ambushed by Islamic militants in Niger didn't call for help until an hour into their first contact with the enemy, the top U.S. general said Monday, as he tried to clear up some of the murky details of the assault that killed four American troops and has triggered a nasty …

    Gen. Joseph Dunford said much is still unclear about the ambush.