There’s been some great work in the local Keys media lately. Here’s a rundown of some of my favorites.
As we know, Peary Court is shaping up to be the next big taxpayer rip-off. The Bluepaper is exploring another angle here. It turns out some out that some of these “affordable housing” units may be charging more than they should. So how affordable is affordable housing?
When it comes to these huge spending initiatives, citizens need to know who really benefits. That’s the primary question. The City of Key West wants to spend $55 million to purchase Peary Court, which was purchased in 2013 for $35 million. Somebody is going to walk away with $20 million in taxpayer money. But who exactly is that? The Bluepaper dug through the documents to find out. This was quite a research project. Hat’s off.
I also liked the story in the Free Press about people working multiple jobs. The decisions that politicians make have consequences. The wastewater projects are serving as a template for other emerging issues. Monroe County and the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority (FKAA) overspent the budget on Cudjoe Regional by $49 million. When the $10 million give-back to customers in that area is factored in, the financial hole they created amounts to $59 million. Even with the state’s $30 million contribution, county-wide taxpayers are still stuck with an extra $29 million tab. And the bleeding hasn’t stopped yet.
What did the taxpayers get for all this money? Well, nothing. There was no substantial expansion of the service area. County taxpayers are simply paying a lot more for the same project. So who did benefit from all this excessive spending? It’s immediately obvious that the contractors and subcontractors benefited. Beyond that, it’s hard to say. But Kolhage and Carruthers were certainly motivated to spend, spend, spend. It’s unclear exactly why. It doesn’t do a thing for their own districts.
It’s the moderate income area of Key Largo that’s getting hammered on the wastewater project. But there are more huge spending initiatives on the horizon and you can’t get blood from a turnip. It looks like Key West is the next to be targeted. Not only is Peary Court bearing down on them, but they’ll be the biggest donors to Carruthers’s proposed Emergency Services Surtax (ESS). However, Key Largo won’t get off scot-free as this Free Press article points out. Both of these moderate-income, sales tax generating areas need to watch this very closely.
It was the KeyNoter (KeysNet.com) that broke the story about the $20,000 missing from the school district. They are still all over it with this story about school district staffers refusing to cooperate with the internal investigation.
Great work by local media outlets in the Keys. There’s so much scandal I don’t know how they keep up with it all!