Florida mayors back Amendment 1 to protect environment

Mayors from six of the state’s major cities including Tampa, Orlando and Tallahassee are supporting Amendment 1, which aims to protect Florida’s water and natural resources and will appear on the ballot next Tuesday.

Both the city of Gainesville and Alachua County also support the measure.

The amendment made the ballot after private citizens collected more than 700,000 voter petitions, according to Florida’s Water and Land Legacy deputy campaign manager Pegeen Hanrahan.

“For many years, particularly from 1980 to 2009, Florida had a strong commitment to protecting our water resources,” Hanrahan said. “Unfortunately, in the economic downturn starting in 2009, these programs were nearly zero-funded.”

Hanrahan, a former two-term mayor and two-term city commissioner of Gainesville, said the proposed amendment would not create a new tax. 

Instead, it will designate one third of the documentary stamp tax on real estate transfers — which are paid when a mortgage or deed is filed with the state — toward conservation efforts. This type of funding source has been used for similar purposes in Florida for decades, Hanrahan said.

“The funds can be used for water cleanup and protection, management of existing natural lands, restoration of wildlife habitat and even keeping farms, forests and ranches from turning into developed areas but remaining in private hands and in production for growing food and trees,” she said.

Layne Marshall, a UF natural resource conservation sophomore, said she believes this amendment is crucial to the security of the state’s natural resources.

“Saying yes to Amendment 1 would direct more funds toward a brighter future for the natural world as well as the world in general for future generations to enjoy and use sustainably,” said Marshall, 19.

[A version of this story ran on page 4 on 10/29/2014]

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