Nov 062015


Letter to the Editor:

There is an article that appeared in the Free Press titled “Majeska files to run for Murphy’s seat”. Murphy made some statements in that article that really ought to be clarified for the voters and the taxpayers. Referring to Key Largo, Murphy is reported to have said:

“We are not up here paying one bit more than the people down the road, even though their assessment is lower,” she told the Free Press.

That is self-contradictory. How does Key Largo pay the same if their assessment is higher? According to a report dated November 2014, the Key Largo Wastewater Treatment estimates that it will collect $73.1 million spread over 14,054 EDU’s. That is $5,201 per EDU. According to a report prepared by Monroe County, they estimate that they will collect $59.6 million spread over 14,117 EDU’s. That works out to be $4,222.

Citizens in Key Largo also pay for their project out of rates – about $8 of the $33.60 base charge goes to pay off debt. The report prepared by the District estimates that about $10.5 million will come out of rates to pay for the capital cost of the project. That’s another $744 per EDU.

Between assessments and rates, Key Largo citizens will contribute $1,690 per EDU more than citizens in the other unincorporated areas. In addition to that, there are interest charges and other miscellaneous costs.

Murphy contradicts herself again by saying:

“Over a period of two or three years, yes, everyone gets treated equally. But, say, within six months, no, they do not. But everybody gets a fair shake.”

First she says that Key Largo doesn’t pay “one bit more” even though their assessments are higher. Then she says over a period of two or three years everyone will be treated equally. None of this makes sense.

Murphy needs to clarify her statements. She also needs to provide documents to back up what she’s saying, because the documents available right now contradict her claims.

This is typical of the double talk taxpayers Keys-wide get from county officials. It needs to stop. Key Largo got shafted on the financial end of the wastewater projects. Cudjoe Regional customers have been fed all kinds of misinformation about their project. Self-contradictory statements like this from a County Commissioner only make matters worse. The taxpayers need honest, fact-based, straightforward information not this gobbledy-gook.

Margaret Blank
Key Largo taxpayer

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 November 6, 2015  Posted by at 12:46 am Issue #139, Letter to the Editor  Add comments

  2 Responses to “Double Talk Needs to Stop”

  1. So far as equality in sewering the Keys, there has been very little. As far as being in touch with reality, or having any compassion or sense of fairness for the people they represent, there has been damned little from some of the BOCC. There is a big pot of infrastructure tax money that ALL of the Keys voted in to pay for the mandated sewers. I could understand an assessment equalization rebate adjustment from that money, but not a donation to the State to patch their property for the benefit of Marathon. I can see equality in spending infrastructure tax money to put grinder pump stations in the road a grinder pump is the only sensible alternative. Those people facing $4,000 electrical upgrades to power County equipment on a piece of their yard that they have been forced to surrender or face an additional $12,000 or so in up front connection costs were not treated equitably at all. People in Little Venice, Baypoint, and Conch Key paid $2,700 total for a gravity sewer connection with no loss of property rights, while a Cudjoe Regional homeowner might be looking at a total of $4,500 + $12,000 + $4,000 = $20,500 in up front cost and about $1,000 per year average in maintenance just to keep their privacy as it was. And this for a sewer system that absolutely is unreliable. That is not just unfair, it is criminally unfair. Monoe County has several consulting engineers on call, with fees pre-approved. I have seen the approval item on the BOCC agenda. Yet nobody called for an independent review when the design of the Cudjoe system was challenged by citizens. (“I trust our engineers.”) Instead, the BOCC approved about a half million dollars in reimbursements paid by FKAA to lawyers to fight for a faulty sewer. That money came from your infrastructure tax funds, and still more will be spent to try to keep grinder pumps off the public right-of-way. “Your tax dollars at work….fighting the taxpayers.” I hope the Feds do a full RICO investigation, including sifting carefully through the personal finances of some of the key players. Too many citizens have been victimized.

    • Agreed. It’s a mess. Nobody’s happy and nobody should be. To be fair, Carruthers did suggest a third party review at one point. She didn’t even get a second. Too bad she wasn’t more persistent. It might have saved us all a lot of money and a lot of misery. Unfortunately, she went on to thoughtlessly approve more and more spending without a clue as to where it might wind up. Here we are $43 million later…

      Putting grinder pumps in the road might actually be a money-saver, which is desperately needed at this point. They should at least look at it. They could serve more than one property like Marathon did. But it probably would increase people’s tie-in costs.

      People are facing the expense of tying in all over the Keys. That’s definitely not limited to Cudjoe Regional. We’re all taxpayers and we’re all stuck with these expenses. But the county helped some a lot more than others. They compounded the situation by being very irresponsible with spending.

      The county has been lying about the funding issues affecting Key Largo for years. Murphy is the worst because Key Largo is in her district. Her comments to the Free Press are amazing. None of the county commissioners really seem to have a handle on the wastewater projects, but Murphy seems especially lost. It’s scary. There are hundreds of millions of dollars at stake. They need to know what’s going on and how their decisions affect people.

      You should check out the BOCC financial disclosure forms. The last three years are online at the Florida Ethics Commission website. Some of them are quite interesting. In one case, there’s a large unexplained increase in “investments”, and a big gap between assets and liabilities. That does make me wonder a bit.

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