Scott getting special treatment from special districtby John Kennedy | April 5th, 2011
Lake Worth Drainage District representatives are trying to get Gov. Rick Scott to embrace legislation aimed at helping direct water from remote northwest Palm Beach County to the crowded cities that line its eastern shoreline.
First-year Rep. Lori Berman, D-Delray Beach, drew a warning this week from Scott’s office that the Republican governor was inclined to veto her bill for the special district (HB 741) if it continued on the path to approval.
On Tuesday, the House Finance and Tax Committee unanimously approved the measure — its third straight OK without opposition — leaving it tantalizingly close to full House action.
But district attorney Terry Lewis said he’s also stepped in, huddling with representatives of Scott’s office to ease concerns the legislation could add tax liability to taxpayers within the district’s 200 miles of Palm Beach County.
“It won’t,” said Lewis, although he acknowledged the measure will give the district authority to issue bonds to develop new water supply sources. “We’re talking. I think the governor’s office has a better understanding.”
Scott spokesman Brian Hughes said discussions are continuing over the bill.
The district is looking to build a reservoir, improve canals and other work to direct water from wetlands northwest of the C-51 canal toward southeastern Palm Beach County — where the people are.
The district also is seeking the Legislature’s go-ahead to become a water supplier to county and municipal utilities, once the work is completed.
Lewis said enhancing the supply will make water costs cheaper for county taxpayers. Also, the work planned by the district will create jobs — all part of his sales pitch to Scott.