Animal Control – Clarification and Update

cat-278187_1920The Florida Keys Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (FKSPCA) submitted a letter to the editor to clarify some issues related to the new building the taxpayers are partially funding.  Here’s a link.

The letter says some very interesting things.  First of all, it repeats Gastesi’s excuse about the “construction boom that raised prices”.  

• Construction cost for the new animal shelter is $6.8 million. The FKSPCA has raised $6.1 million. Since our original cost estimate of $5 million, made three years ago, construction costs have increased considerably and will likely continue upwards. Our request to the City Commissioners for assistance with permit and impact fees is so that we can begin construction now, to contain any further increase in construction costs, and enable us to raise additional money to equip and furnish the building. Including permit and impact fees, this amounts to an additional $1.6 million, a total of $8.4 million.

Bid prices have been going up lately after a long period of holding steady.  But those increases are modest compared to the county’s huge cost overruns on capital projects.  I believe that actually has a lot more to do with bait and switch tactics than with anything else.  Bernstein Park, which entered the budget at $3 million, now costs a staggering $8 million.  The huge $5 million cost escalation includes a new community center that was inexplicably excluded when the project was approved by the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC).  It was included in early cost estimates, but not in the budget.  It slithered in later as part of an agenda item about an additional $16 million in borrowing.  Sneaky.

The cost of the animal control building has increased by 21% in three years.  That’s a lot.  An earlier news item suggested that the project had gone out to bid and that $6.8 million was the lowest bid.  If that’s the case, I’d love to see the bid tabulation.  Guess I’ll have to submit another public records request.

• Under the terms of the tri-partite agreement between the city, county and the FKSPCA, ownership of the shelter will revert to the county after 28 years (the balance of our 30-year contract with Monroe County), then to the city on expiration of its 99-year lease (68 years remaining) with the county.

Here’s a link to that “tripartite agreement”.  It’s really between the city and the county.  I don’t see anything about ownership of the shelter reverting back to the county in that particular agreement, but it is included in this one between the county and the FKSCPA.  So the substance of FKSPCA’s statements check out.

• The city has not given us land. The city still owns it.

True.  Comm. Murphy was incorrect when she claimed that the county had donated land to the FKSPCA.  As Tammy Fox and Jane Dawkins said in their letter, the land belongs to the City of Key West.  Monroe County leases the land from the city for the specific purpose of providing animal control services.  The county then contracts with the FKSPCA to provide those state-mandated animal control services.

I don’t know.  It’s hard for me to find fault with these FKSPCA people.  Their tax returns look okay.  Their letter to the editor checks out mostly.  (I’m still skeptical about that cost escalation thing.)  It’s so weird to fact check somebody and find out they’re actually telling the truth!


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