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Bill would cut Hillsborough, Pinellas strength on SWFWMD board

Posted Jan 28, 2013 by William March

Updated Jan 28, 2013 at 07:19 PM

A bill filed by two Sarasota legislators would reduce the power of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties on the governing board of the area’s main water control agency, the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

The legislation, by state Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, and state Rep. Ray Pilon, R-Sarasota, would reduce the board from 13 to nine members from the district’s 16 counties. It would cut the Hillsborough and Pinellas representatives from five to two and the Polk representatives from two to one.

Todd Pressman of Pinellas County, a SWFWMD board member and former chairman, said the legislation is part of an ongoing attempt by the smaller, less developed counties to wrest power from the two big, urbanized counties, a move he said has had some success in the past—the second Polk representative was added a few years ago.

“My concern would be that you have to put resources where the demand is,” he said. “It worries me that money would siphoned away from the areas where there’s more population and more to do.”

Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman, formerly non-voting county liaison to the board, said it also could relate to the desire of Gov. Rick Scott and some legislators to reduce the authority and reach of all water management districts, which they consider “just more regulation getting in the way of economic development.”