Proceed With Extreme Caution

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Key Largo taxpayers:  did they fall or were they pushed?

From KeysNet.com:  ‘Environment’ removed from Raschein’s land stewardship bill.

The bill formerly known as the Florida Keys Environmental Stewardship Act, will be on the agenda at the next Board of County Commissioners meeting.  As with many things that affect Monroe County taxpayers, this bill sounds great in concept.  It replaces and expands the Mayfield Grant, which is a tough sell in Tallahassee because it requires the state to borrow.  The borrowing issue has been used as a shaky excuse to prohibit using Mayfield money to refinance the sewer projects.  This in turn has placed an excessive financial burden on taxpayers in those areas that completed their projects in a timely manner.  Ass-backward.  But that’s government for ya.

Under the Stewardship Bill, the Keys would get a certain amount of documentary stamp tax money each year for conservation projects.  So for a certain number of years the Keys would receive a predictable amount of tax money.  This is terrific.  Keys officials won’t have to go back year after year and beg the state to borrow.  There will be a dedicated income stream.  The predictability allows for smart planning and for optimizing the benefits.

If it’s so great, why did I title my post, “Proceed With Extreme Caution”?  Well our “friends”, the Monroe County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) will be reviewing the draft bill at the October 21 meeting.  The BOCC is getting ready to go on another massive spending spree with our money.  Even worse, they’ve shown little inclination to clean up the mess they’ve already made of wastewater.  They’ve been talking about land purchases, canal restoration and storm water projects.  This should make Monroe County taxpayers very nervous – especially those with unfinished wastewater business.  I’m talking about Key Largo, of course.  But also Islamorada, Marathon and Cudjoe Regional.

Stay tuned.  Pay attention.  Be aware.  While the bill sounds great on the surface, the BOCC might try to turn it into an escape hatch to avoid their responsibilities when it comes to the wastewater projects, and a springboard for massive new spending.  This would certainly be in keeping with their track record.  I’ll be reviewing the bill myself – very closely.  And I’ll be watching the BOCC very closely.

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