Unincorporated Tavernier is interested in obtaining fire service from the Key Largo Fire and Rescue District (Fire District). There have been a couple of news items about it, which I talked about here.
There’s another story about the issue on KeysNews this morning. It sounds like there are still plenty of issues to work out. What really caught my attention was this:
According to a fact sheet that the ad hoc committee gave out at the workshop, county records indicate that in 2014, $1.5 million of Tavernier property tax money went toward “all county fire stations.” But in 2014, Tavernier’s fire and rescue department only cost $800,000 to run.
This is just so, so typical of how Monroe County runs. The county overspends in the Lower Keys and then expects Key Largo to make up the difference – either by under-serving the area or forcing an over-contribution.
We’ve seen this play out in a big way on the sewer projects. And on a much smaller, but sadder, scale with the animal shelters.
I’m very happy to see the citizens of Tavernier stand up to it. Good for them. If they are successful, there’s always the worry that the county will withhold funding from the infrastructure sales tax for capital needs related to fire service. And, yes, I absolutely do believe the county is capable of stooping that low.
Remember that all sales tax generated by unincorporated Tavernier and Key Largo goes directly to Monroe County. The citizens have no direct access to the the sales tax money they generate. The county has misused its authority and has been negligently unfair in distributing that money on several different issues.
Fortunately, when it comes to fire service that seems to be less of a problem. The county seems to recognize that this is a safety-related issue and is not something to play politics with. Hopefully that will remain the case going forward. But as always the citizens of Key Largo and Tavernier need to be vigilant.
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