More Sewer News – County to Address Sewer Upgrades

There’s another wastewater article in the Key West Citizen, “County to address sewer upgrades“.

Looks like the county will consider serving 99 homes on No Name, Big Torch and Little Torch with central sewer rather than onsite systems as originally planned.  The article says the break-even point for onsite versus central is $22,500.  It also says the initial estimate for providing centralized sewer service was between $50,000 – $60,000 per connection.  Now the estimated cost is between $25,000 and $30,000.  That’s quite a bust.  A cost estimate is just that – an estimate.  I wouldn’t expect it to be spot on, but lower by half?  I find that very strange for a project like this.  There’s plenty of cost data available.  There have been sewer projects going on in the Keys for well over a decade.  I’m concerned that the BOCC will get lured in by some low ball estimate only to find out later that – uhoh – it will cost $60,000 per connection after all.  I hope they’ve done their due diligence this time.  They don’t have the best track record when it comes to controlling costs on the sewer projects.

The most important item to me, of course, is the swap interlocal with the Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District.  The article fails to mention the most crucial aspect of this agreement – the potential to correct the excessive contribution required of Key Largo taxpayers caused by the county’s inequitable distribution of sales tax money – $26 million for a community of 14,000 people.  The Key Largo project serves about the same number of households as the projects in the other unincorporated areas combined.  Yet, it will receive $100 million less in sales tax money from the county for the sewer project.  And that was before the cost of the Cudjoe project increased to $190 million.  Key Largo taxpayers cannot afford to let this issue be swept under the rug.

I hope, going forward, the county will endeavor to treat all its taxpayers fairly.  Knowing that Key Largo taxpayers are watching is the only way to keep them moving in that direction.  The county doesn’t necessarily want to do the right thing, but they sure hate getting called out for doing the wrong thing.

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