Tax decline may sink Everglades rescue deal

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- South Florida's steep drop in property values threatens to claim another victim: the governor's $1.34 billion plan to buy U.S. Sugar Corp. land for Everglades restoration.

Property values are expected to drop 12 percent statewide in the 2009-10 budget year but in the 16 counties that make up the South Florida Water Management District, property values have dropped at least 14 percent, early state estimates show.

It raises the question of whether we can ''afford this deal,'' said Sen. J.D. Alexander, the Lake Wales Republican who is the Senate budget chief and a vocal opponent of the governor's proposal.

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