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Business Observer Friday, Jun. 3, 2011 9 years ago

Government Digest: June 3

Governmental action from around the Gulf Coast.
by: Jay Brady Government Editor

Moore resigns Swiftmud post
BROOKSVILLE — David Moore, the executive director of the Southwest Florida Water Management District since March 2003, resigned his position May 26. In a letter addressed to Paul Senft Jr., chairman of the district board, Moore stated he wished to spend more time with his family, and also offered to continue to serve during a transition period.

The district, known as Swiftmud, manages water resources for a 10,000-square-mile area covering 16 counties of west-central Florida. Moore began his career with Swiftmud in 1984 as a hydrologist.

Moore's management had received some criticism recently from board members for allowing cash balances to increase from $268 million in 2001 to $674 million last year. (See “Muddy Waters,” in the May 13 issue of the Business Review.) The Legislature passed a bill this year to cut Swiftmud's property tax revenue by $60 million, part of a measure reducing property tax revenues of four of the five water management districts by $210.5 million.

Governor signs budget after vetoes
TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott signed the state's $69.1 billion budget last week after vetoing $615 million in what Scott called “special-interest earmarks” approved by the Legislature. The record veto amount, however, is inflated by $300 million allocated to Florida Forever, the state's land purchase program. Spending for that program was dependent on revenue from future state land sales.

In a press release, Scott says, “Special interests probably aren't happy with the tough choices I made, but I am confident everyone can agree that funding for our children and students is more important than pleasing Tallahassee's special interests.”

Included in the vetoes were a number of projects from around the Gulf Coast including university and college building additions and renovations for the University of South Florida, State College of Florida and Florida Gulf Coast University. Other projects axed include $5 million for improvements to the planned rowing facility at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota, $750,000 for the Bob Janes Triage Center in Lee County, and $500,000 for the Loveland Center, an adult handicapped residence facility in Venice.

The governor also vetoed the re-appropriation of state funds for the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Association (TBARTA). TBARTA was created by the Legislature in 2007 to plan and develop a multimodal transportation system to connect seven counties of the Tampa Bay region. Also vetoed was a $2 million appropriation for the state's economic gardening program operated in a partnership with the University of Central Florida.

Ley negotiates own pink slip
SARASOTA COUNTY — Sarasota County commissioners accepted County Administrator Jim Ley's resignation proposal May 25, a day after the commission tabled the discussion of Ley's offer as a result of initial disagreement about a “clawback” provision. County commissioners later named Major Kurt Hoffman, Sheriff's department administrator, to serve as interim administrator pending final agreement on a contract. Both Hoffman and Deputy County Administrator David Bullock say they are not candidates for the county administrator position.

Ley, who had been with the county for 14 years, offered to resign when he became, as he put it, “ a lightning rod” for debate centered around a purchasing scandal that has led to an arrest, multiple employee terminations and one suicide of a fired county worker.

The clawback clause in the agreement that Commissioner Joe Barbetta sought would have required Ley to return his severance if later found guilty of a crime.
Commissioners did not include that provision when they voted 4-1 to accept Ley's resignation, with Barbetta dissenting. Ley will receive roughly $300,000 in compensation.

“My staff is currently working to revise the internal structure to assume the general counsel duties and division command responsibilities,” says Hoffman in a county press release. “Once this is successfully in place, my goal will be to stabilize the role of county administrator and restore public confidence in Sarasota County government.”

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