March 10, 2009

Falling revenues threaten U.S. Sugar deal

Declining tax revenues in Florida have put a $13.4 billion environmental land acquisition at risk, the state Senate's chief budget representative said.

Republican state Sen. J.D. Alexander questioned whether the state can afford this deal, The Miami Herald reported Tuesday.

The South Florida Water Management District, which draws funding from property tax revenues, may have trouble paying the estimated $100 million annual debt payments required in a deal to purchase land from U.S. Sugar Corp. that was earmarked for Everglades restoration.

The state has estimated that in the 16 counties covered by the water district, property values have dropped 14 percent.

There is just an irony about this. It's the best land to buy at the worst possible time, said Shannon Estenoz, vice chair of the South Florida Water Management District's governing board.