Now would be good time to revisit the wastewater funding disparity situation. For one thing, there’s been a bit of progress. Hurray! See here and here.
For another, I think it’s necessary to demonstrate once again how straightforward this calculation really is. The county is still trying to conceal the issue by attempting to over-complicate it. The truth is its easy, simple addition and subtraction. The county should absolutely be able to handle this. Then again maybe not.
But I can! Here goes.
I highlighted a few items for discussion.
Since the previous analysis, the cost of the Cudjoe Regional project has escalated from $170 million to $196 million. Yikes!
That $3.8 million federal grant for Cudjoe Regional was for on-site systems. Since most of those have been eliminated, it’s unclear what the status of that grant is at present. It’s quite possible that the county/FKAA won’t be able to use it and the taxpayers will have to make up the difference. Terrific! What’s another $3.8 million between friends?
The previous project cost for Key Largo was $169.85 million. That included $17 million in projects that were to have been funded by the state. The District since traded that $17 million to Monroe County. Deducting $17 million from $169.85 million leaves $152.85 million. According to the budget-to-actual for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2015 about $4.7 million was spent on construction projects. That puts the construction cost to date at about $157.55 million.
Since the last report was prepared, another $1.25 million has been received from the federal government, increasing the total from $21 million to $22.5 million.
As mentioned above, the $17 million from the state was traded away to the county. So $17 million has been deducted from the previous total of $28 million leaving $11 million.
The county has made a $1 million payment toward its swap agreement with Key Largo, increasing their contribution from $23.1 million to $24.1 million.
Islamorada has made additional capital contributions of almost $1.5 million for needed upgrades in accordance with the interlocal agreement. I found that figure in the District’s budget-to-actual report as well. See the revenue section.
The difference in the local contributions per EDU is now $1,937. At 14,054 EDU’s, that works out to about $27.2 million. To make this very, very clear Key Largo citizens pay over $1,900 per EDU more than their neighbors in the other unincorporated areas. They pay the same taxes, vote for the same commissioners and are located within the unincorporated area – just like their neighbors in Cudjoe Regional, Big Coppitt, etc.
Key Largo is, in fact, the largest generator of the sales tax in the unincorporated area. And the second largest in the county. Because of its status as an unincorporated area any sales tax generated in Key Largo goes directly to Monroe County, who squanders it elsewhere. And refuses to provide fair funding to Key Largo.
Though Key Largo’s project cost much less, it received far less outside funding – $134 million less. The difference in county funding constitutes almost all of that difference. Key Largo received $126 million less of the sales tax it generates. Is it any surprise that Key Largo citizens would have to pay more? I really don’t see why the county is so confused. The truth seems very clear to me.
Here is a summary table that shows how things have changed for Key Largo.
In the short term, there is a slight increase in the local contribution. But that will sort itself out soon assuming Monroe County abides by the swap agreement. They’re certainly not very ethical so I’m not sure they can be counted on to do that. However, the agreement is a legally binding document, so hopefully that won’t be an issue.
In short, Key Largo ratepayers haven’t seen any relief yet. Hopefully, they will very soon.
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