I ran across some interesting documents while researching my post about infrastructure sales tax revenue that would be available to Key Largo if the citizens choose to incorporate. There are a few items I want to share because they epitomize the county’s fundamentally dishonest approach to the funding disparity issue. The documents are old news, but the situation is not. Key Largo citizens still pay too much for their sewer system and that will have a damaging financial impact for years to come. I remember the first time I met with the county about the issue. I was provided with a deceptive document I like to call “The Craptacular Spreadsheet”.
So what makes “The Craptacular Spreadsheet” so craptacular. Let’s start from the top. The purpose of the spreadsheet was to convince Key Largo folks of the county’s bounteous generosity. It’s titled “County Funding to Key Largo Wastewater Treatment”, but then it goes on to list funding from the federal and state governments; and even from Key Largo taxpayers themselves. Pretty transparent, but it might work on the uninformed.
The biggest issue for me is that the spreadsheet doesn’t even address the core problem – Key Largo taxpayers unjustifiably contribute far more to their wastewater projects than taxpayers in the other unincorporated areas. And this is because of the county’s grossly unfair funding practices. The county avoided a direct comparison because that makes the problem all too obvious.
When I actually tease out which money came from the county, it comes to around $29.0 million. When I asked if certain costs, such as bond costs, were included in the funding amounts for the other projects, I was told “no”. If these costs are not included for the other projects, they should not be included for Key Largo either. There needs to be an honest, apples-to-apples comparison. When this correction is made, the total from the county comes to about $24.1 million.
What’s most disturbing about “The Craptacular Spreadsheet” is the intent to deceive. “The Craptacular Spreadsheet” is accurate in the sense that the numbers are correct. The dishonesty is in the misleading way those numbers are presented. I’ve observed that the county tends to use the same tactics over and over again. So it’s helpful to be aware of them. The county likes to “work around the edges”. They won’t usually come right out and lie – although they’re certainly not above it. They prefer to be evasive and misrepresent the facts. For them, it’s all about creating confusion.
A link to “The Craptacular Spreadsheet” is provided below. I’ve color coded each item and included a legend in the lower right corner. Other than that it is unedited. I wish I could say that this is the only misleading document I’ve received from the county. Unfortunately, it is not. I’ll post about one or two more as time allows.