Financial Squeeze – Four Penny Tax

Key Largo is small community of about 13,500 year-round residents.  The taxpayers of this tiny community are being asked to come up with $87.3 million to pay for the sewer project.  Each household will pay over $6200 just to build it.  That number does not include ongoing operating costs or the cost to tie-in.  The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC), through its grossly unfair funding policies, has imposed what amounts to a $1700 penalty on every household in Key Largo.  They’ve offered no rational explanation.  As far as I can tell, Key Largo taxpayers are being penalized simply for being Key Largo taxpayers.  The BOCC does it simply because they can get away with it.

Key Largo’s project was done efficiently – on time and within budget.  The other county projects are unnecessarily costly.  Not only is Cudjoe Regional $43 million over budget but it is behind schedule and plagued by controversy.  Certain folks resent the formation of the Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District (District).  The District’s responsible handling of its wastewater project contrasts sharply with Monroe County’s wastefulness and incompetence.  That, I surmise, is the real reason for the $1700 penalty, which all together, amounts to a $26 million efficiency tax.  Of course, you’ll never hear a county official come right out and say that.  You’ll get a bunch of excuses and bogus documents instead.

As I was researching the county’s “Recipient Community” document I came across this report from the Tourist Development Council.  It provides data on the 4-penny tourism tax.  On the first page is a table that provides data on market share for each district from FY1996 to present.  Graphing this data shows that District V’s market share has declined over the years.  I’ve included four graphs that compare District V’s performance to each of the other four districts.

4-Penny District 1 vs 54-Penny District 2 vs 54-Penny District 3 vs 54-Penny District 4 vs 5

The tourism industry in the Keys has been doing very well lately and a rising tide should lift all boats.  These figures suggest that boats in Key Largo are not being lifted – at least not to the same extent.  Of course it makes sense that a $26 million efficiency penalty would hamper business people who want to establish new businesses or grow existing ones.

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