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The first sentence of Fla. Stat. ch. 125.01(1) (1975), grants to the governing body of a county the full power to carry on county government. Unless the Legislature has pre-empted a particular subject relating to county government by either general or special law, the county governing body, by reason of this sentence, has full authority to act through the exercise of home rule power.
The Board of County Commissioners of Pasco County enacted an ordinance creating a Municipal Service Taxing Unit to be known as West Pasco Water and Sewer Unit (hereinafter referred to as the "Unit"). The Unit was composed of the entire unincorporated area of the county. The commissioners called a special election by the residents of the Unit for the purpose of securing their approval for the issuance of $41.5 million general obligation bonds by the Unit. The proposed bond issue passed by a majority of 79 percent. The appellants (taxpayers) initiated suit in circuit court to contest the legality of the election and its results. Immediately thereafter, Pasco County filed a complaint seeking validation of the bonds. The appellants intervened in the latter suit and sought dismissal contending, as in their earlier action, that the commissioners' use of their emergency powers to establish the Unit was invalid and that the issuance of general obligation bonds for the expansion of sewer and water systems was improper. The actions were consolidated. The circuit court held the election was valid and validated the bonds. The appellants (taxpayers) have appealed to this Court.
Could Chapter 125, Florida Statutes, be utilized by the county to authorize general obligation bonds for the acquisition of sewer and water systems?
The court noted that pursuant to Fla. Stat. ch. 125.01(1) (1975) Pasco County had full authority to act through the exercise of home rule power. The taxpayers contended that by having submitted the question of the issuance of the proposed general obligation bonds to the electorate, the election was unauthorized and invalid. The court stated that Fla. Const. art. VII, § 12(a) (1968) required that any indebtedness of a local government body with taxing powers which was payable from ad valorem taxation, matured more than 12 months after issuance and was to be issued to finance capital projects authorized by law, had to have been approved by the vote of the qualified electors of that body. The court held that it was necessary to have held a bond election as part of the authorization for their issuance. Validation of the general obligation bonds was affirmed.