One Down, Two to Go


The questions keep piling up.

In this post, I talked about three questions I posed to Monroe County and the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority (FKAA).

  1.  I asked the FKAA board about the status of Bob Dean’s residency issue.  No response.  I’ll try again.  Only this time I’ll put it in the form of a public records request.
  2. I asked Bob Shillinger to address the issue of the Hickory House sale.  It doesn’t appear to have been advertised in accordance with Florida law.  I’m very curious about that because (a) the taxpayers took a $1 million loss on the sale; and (b) it became part of the controversial Ocean’s Edge development.
  3. I asked Rhonda Haag to send a “sources and uses” report for the canal restoration projects.

Rhonda Haag is the only one to respond so far.  At the end of the last post, I said this.

I asked Rhonda Haag to provide a “sources and uses” report for the canal demonstration projects.  I want to know how much the projects cost and how they will be paid for.  She did respond in order to ask a follow-up question, but nothing since.  Certainly, Ms. Haag has this information at her finger tips.  She would be negligent if she did not.  Then again, if you find me a county official who isn’t negligent I’ll find you a leprechaun with a pot of gold.

Much to my surprise, and relief, Ms. Haag was able to produce the information I requested.  I can’t say for sure whether it’s accurate or not.  Only time will tell.  So, as promised, here’s a leprechaun.

No pot of gold, but he does have lots of coins falling out of his pockets.  Much like Monroe County taxpayers.

Some observations…

  1.  According to Haag’s spreadsheet, Monroe County has spent almost $7.4 million on these projects so far.  The vast majority – 77% or $5.7 million – has come from the infrastructure sales tax.  That is, from taxpayers county-wide.  About 23% or $1.7 million has come from the state.  Keep in mind, these are hyper-expensive projects.  The total cost is projected to be $670 million, rivaling that of the sewer projects.  But unlike the sewer projects, the water quality benefit is expected to be very, very limited.  The only people who will benefit are those who own property on the affected canals, and even that is uncertain.
  2. I wasn’t provided with initial cost estimates for all the projects.  However, the one’s that I do have estimates for all exceed the initial estimates.  Par for the course.  So we have to assume that $670 million is a very optimistic number.  I’ll guess these projects will go at least one-third over budget.  If that’s the case, the taxpayers are looking at about $1 billion to clean up canals for a very few lucky property owners.  Keep in mind, one of these projects is five times over the initial estimate.  So my $1 billion guesstimate might be way too low.  Scary thought.

Look, I’m very much opposed to these projects.  It’ll take some good, solid, verifiable data to change my mind.  Frankly, that doesn’t exist right now and probably never will.  The cost-benefit analysis just doesn’t work.  And the BOCC hasn’t even bothered to attempt a fair allocation of costs.

The only county commissioner who has consistently voted “no” on the canal restoration projects is Danny Kolhage – much to my shock and amazement.  This is a person who dedicated himself to reckless overspending and negligent unfairness on the wastewater projects.  It’d be nice to think he’s seen the error of his ways, but I highly doubt it.  I imagine there’s just nothing in this for him.  Even so, a “no” is a “no”.  I’ll take it.  Now we just need two more.


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