So I read this story on KeysNews this morning. Commissioner Murphy’s comments are awful. I think I gave her way too much credit in my write-up. She comes off as completely disengaged and clueless here. She contradicts herself in a big way. First she says, Key Largo doesn’t pay a dime more for the sewer project. Then she says they do but it will all be evened up in two or three years. Which is it? I’ll get my haz-mat suit on and wade in.
First off, I’m glad Robby Majeska has filed to run for Murphy’s seat. Whether people know it or not, the wastewater projects are the highest dollar issue the Keys has going right now. The combined cost is around $800 million. Just sit with that for a minute. An $800 million project, a population of 73,000. Majeska is a small business owner. He’s been on the Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District (District) board for years. He understands the issues. He understands the numbers. Not only when it comes to wastewater but many other issues. Most importantly, he cares.
The most appalling thing to me about Murphy’s comments is that she just doesn’t seem to care. She doesn’t care that what she’s saying is true. She doesn’t care enough to check. She doesn’t care enough to show us the numbers. I guess we’re supposed to accept what she says uncritically and just keep writing checks.
“We are not up here paying one bit more than the people down the road, even though their assessment is lower,” she told the Free Press. “He’s [Robby is] the only one beating that drum.”
Robby is not the only one beating that drum. I’m beating that drum, too. The Key Largo Federation of Homeowners beat that drum when they submitted a joint resolution requesting fair funding along with the Tavernier Homeowners Association and the Key Largo Chamber of Commerce.
I hope that all Key Largo taxpayers start beating the drum. They’re the ones getting squeezed here. And lied to and taken advantage of. Continuously. If the county gets away with this huge $100 million inequity on wastewater, its open season on Key Largo taxpayers. This pattern of gross unfairness will repeat itself in everything. It already is. We see it in animal control and in many other infrastructure projects.
“We are not paying one bit more than they. We receive money from the county and from the state. I do feel I fight for equal money.”
The county’s own documents support the fact that Key Largo pays more for their sewer projects. If that’s not enough, let’s bring some common sense into the discussion. The county’s own documents also show that the Key Largo project is about the same size as the other wastewater projects in the unincorporated area combined, and that Key Largo has received $100 million less from Monroe County. That is a huge imbalance and if the goal really is equity then that is a huge hurdle to overcome. As it stands today, Key Largo citizens will pay $26 million more than their counterparts in the other unincorporated areas.
“Over a period of two or three years, yes, everyone gets treated equally. But, say, within six months, no, they do not. But everybody gets a fair shake.”
First of all, Murphy just got done saying that Key Largo isn’t paying “one bit more than they“. Now, apparently we are, but it will be resolved in “two or three years“. So which is it? She’s contradicting herself here.
As to “two or three years“, I first brought this issue up to Monroe County over four years ago. In that time, Key Largo has seen zero dollars from the county to address the issue. In fact, the county has actually done a lot to worsen the situation. See here and here. By the way, I was not the first to raise the issue by a long shot. My predecessor expressed his concerns, as did several board members past and present.
This has been going on for almost a decade. So to breezily dismiss it as something that will be resolved in two or three years is just plain dishonest. Key Largo citizens have been paying higher assessments since 2006. And they have been paying for their project out of rates almost as long.
I would love to see “Murphy-math” down on paper. I’m looking at numbers I got from Monroe County. What numbers is she looking at? What is this plan that will resolve everything in two or three years? Why haven’t we heard about it before? Why hasn’t it ever been discussed at a Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting? There’s the swap agreement which might address $8.5 million of the inequity in ten years. The rest of it may be resolved if state funding comes through. There’s nothing definite and nothing has been said about resolving it in two or three years.
There’s a lesson to be learned from all this. Key Largo taxpayers have been quiet and polite and patient. And very passive. Cudjoe Regional taxpayers have been loud and critical and litigious. And very persistent. Who got the better end of the deal? Which way gets results? Which way gets you screwed? The answer should be obvious.
Key Largo needs to fight, and they need a fighter to represent them. Sylvia Murphy is clearly is not it.