I’ve got another idea beginning to germinate. As I go through this process of examining documents, Monroe County’s pattern of short-changing Key Largo taxpayers on wastewater funding becomes clearer and clearer. Not only that, I can’t help but view it as a long-standing and deliberate effort. When I look at the distribution of the gas taxes, it is based on the proportional share of roads and bridges. When I look at the paving report, it is based on an overall evaluation of the condition of the roads. There is a rational basis for these things that does not exist with the wastewater projects. Why? Why is wastewater different?
As I’ve said before, there is no rational basis for the wastewater funding disparity – at least not to anyone who looks at the situation objectively. The county has thrown out a number of excuses – easily debunked. They’ve attempted to back up their decisions with cooked up reports – also easily debunked. What they haven’t done is provide a rational basis for the funding disparity that is supported by the facts, and that is consistent with their funding policies in other areas. While I can think of no rational basis for the enormous wastewater funding disparity, I can think of an irrational one.
My guess is that Key Largo taxpayers are being punished for being served by an independent special district that is NOT the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority (FKAA). The county has basically said as much when asked why the wastewater funding situation is so unfair to Key Largo taxpayers. Even worse than the crime of being served by an independent special district that is not the FKAA, is the crime of completing the project in a timely and cost-effective manner. It seems inconceivable that this, on its own, would be reason enough for the disparity though. It certainly wouldn’t shock me to find out that there is some kind of shady financial arrangement that hasn’t come to light yet, but that is just speculation at this point. Think for minute about how much money we’re talking about. As I’ve said before, the Cudjoe project is now $43 million over budget and mired in controversy over the lack of transparency. The $26 million over-contribution forced upon Key Largo taxpayers certainly provides significant extra cash for our county officials to use as they see fit. The disparity could also serve to pit one taxpayer against another. This could be a very useful distraction mechanism if the taxpayers unwittingly play along. It is interesting to watch exactly who attempts to facilitate this sort of conflict.
The big question: Does the systemic and grossly unfair treatment of Key Largo taxpayers constitute a violation of Florida ethics laws? Or any other law?
It’s an important question. This could be a way for Key Largo taxpayers, and other unhappy taxpayers, to finally relieve themselves of the politicians and bureaucrats who have created and continue to perpetuate the unacceptable wastewater situation.