Florida Keys Stewardship Act – Editorial

beach-16698__180Update:  The KeyNoter turned out to be right.  The Florida Keys Stewardship Act (FKSA) is pretty questionable overall.

I ran across this editorial at KeysNet.com:  The Keys get $5 million for water and land, but calling that a success is a stretch.

I disagree.  I think it is a success.  I won’t lie, I was a little disappointed in certain respects, particularly by the fact that the Keys wouldn’t be receiving recurring funding.  As stated in the newspaper article…

[I]t turns out the money would have to be requested — and approved — every legislative session; it would not be a solid cash commitment for 10 (or 20) years.

If the Keys, particularly Key Largo, had a dependable funding stream, providing needed financial relief to the ratepayers would be an immediate possibility.

It’s important to remember though, that the Keys have some self-imposed challenges.  I talked about those in my comment on the editorial.

First of all, the county’s over-spending on Cudjoe Regional and other capital projects is not going to make the Keys seem like good custodians of state money.  How can they be, if they’re not even good custodians of their own money?  No matter how well the other projects may have been managed, the entities of the Keys are lumped together in Tallahassee.

Second, state agencies were drawn into the many Cudjoe Regional lawsuits.  Those lawsuits were a direct result of the county’s mishandling of the project.  The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) failed to provide accurate information to the public and failed to manage expectations.  That surely gave the Keys a black eye and presented unnecessary obstacles in securing state money.

Here’s the other thing – there’s no trust in county leadership among the entities.  Nor should there be.  The county has done all it can to divert state and federal funding to its own poorly managed projects.  It hasn’t managed its own resources in a fair and responsible way either.  Without that trust, genuine teamwork is extremely difficult – if not impossible.

I strongly believe that a change in county leadership is long overdue.  As I said in my comment…

Forget about state money for a minute – making sure our local tax dollars are spent wisely would be huge benefit for taxpayers all on its own. Cudjoe Regional, of course, is way over budget. And so are several other capital projects as reported by this very newspaper. (The projects started at $25 million and now cost $63 million.) Altogether this is an $87 million gap. There will never be enough state money to fill it.

It’s up to the voters to take charge of their own future.  The state isn’t going to bail the Keys out of irresponsible decision-making.  Nor should they be expected to.

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