Monkey Math – Fine & Forfeiture, Parks/Rec/Planning/Zoning, Municipal Policing

Getting through general fund revenues was a hard slog.  I’m still waiting for some information from the Florida Department of Revenue so I can finish up.  Fortunately, the rest isn’t so bad.

As you might know, I’ve been examining this report prepared by Monroe County:  Key Largo-Tavernier-impact (1).  The report was prepared by the county in an effort to stifle talk of incorporation.  Documents previously issued by the county have proven to be misleading.  See here and here.  My assumption is that this report is inaccurate as well, but you know what they say about assumptions.  Fact checking this thing is turning out to be tougher than I thought, but I think the exercise is worthwhile.  Good information leads to good decision-making.

Besides general revenues, the county’s report also talks about the following.

  1. Fine & Forfeiture
  2. Road & Bridge
  3. Parks/Rec/Planning/Building/Zoning
  4. Municipal Policing
  5. Infrastructure Sales Tax  (My favorite!)

In this post I’ll talk about Fine & Forfeiture, Parks/Rec/Planning/Building/Zoning, and Municipal Policing.  These are the easy ones.

Fine & Forfeiture

This one is pretty straightforward.  The amounts can be verified with information provided by the property appraiser.  I came up with a slightly higher figure than the county – $6.3 million as opposed to $6.0 million.  I used a number from FY2013.  That accounts for some of the difference.  It could also be that I’m looking at taxes levied rather than what was actually collected.  Bottom line – the county and I are in substantial agreement.  Here is a link to the table I assembled with information gathered from the property appraiser.

Municipal Policing

“Municipal Policing” is another fairly straightforward and easily verifiable revenue source.  This is funded by an ad valorem tax levied on the unincorporated areas only.  The incorporated areas do not pay this.  The county came up with $1,254,810, which is from FY2012.  I calculated a number for FY2012 based on data received from the Property Appraiser and came up with $1,311,801.  Again, the county does not show their work or explain where the numbers came from so I’m not sure why there’s a slight difference.  Even so, I think the numbers are close enough for my purposes here.

I prefer to use numbers from FY2013.  These are the latest numbers available that can be compared against state records.  The Key Largo/Tavernier contribution for FY2013 is $1,373,369.

Incorporated areas do not pay this tax so incorporated Key Largo would pay zero to the county.  This service would be paid for through the city/village/town.


Parks/Rec/Planning/Zoning is funded by ad valorem taxes and a variety of other sources.  The caveats mentioned above apply here as well.

Ad valorem:  The County reported $625,337 from this source for FY2012.  I came up with $653,738.  Again, not an exact match, but close enough for my purposes here.  The number for FY 2013 is $667,997.  Incorporated areas do not pay this tax.  So an incorporated Key Largo would pay zero to the county.  Key Largo residents would still have to cover the cost of these services but they would be provided by the city/village/town.

Communications Services Tax:  Monroe County received $641,174 from this source in FY2013.  The municipalities received $2,685,276.  The county’s report estimates that $248,271 was generated in Key Largo.  That looks to be based on the proportion of Key Largo’s population in the unincorporated area.  If we’re talking about the amount generated, it would be more accurate to base that on the proportion of business activity as measured by the sales tax or the business tax.  That would be around 45% or $288,528.

What would an incorporated Key Largo receive?  Key Largo is between Key West and Marathon in terms of size by population and by business activity.  Key West received about $1.6 million from this source in FY2013.  Marathon received about $555,000.  I’ll go ahead and eyeball this one.  My guesstimate is that an incorporated Key Largo would receive something around $750,000.

Half-Cent Sales Tax:  A portion of this goes into the General Fund, which I discussed in a previous post.  I estimated that $1.3 million of the roughly $5 million that goes into the special revenue fund comes from Key Largo.  The county came up with $1 million so at least we’re on the same planet.  An incorporated Key Largo would receive about $1.85 million of this tax into its general fund.

Planning Fees:  The county based this estimate on population, which is interesting.  They do keep track of revenue totals by area and include it each month in the county administrator’s report.  I wonder why they didn’t just break down the planning fees by area.  About 36% of the county’s total growth management revenues come from the Upper Keys, which would primarily be Key Largo.  It turns out 36% is very close to the proportion the county uses for population (38%) so I’ll go ahead and stick with their number.

An incorporated Key Largo would have its own planning department and would pay the county nothing.

The Lower Keys contributed about 12% of revenues in FY2013 – about one-third of what Key Largo contributed.  The Cudjoe Regional area contributes something less than that, but for my purposes I’ll use the one-third number.

Code Enforcement:  Similar situation to planning fees.

The ad valorem taxes are calculated in the tables below:



Here is a table of Growth Management Revenues by region.  This table was assembled from the county administrator’s monthly reports, which are available at the clerk of court’s website.


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