Smoke, Mirrors, and Kick the Can …
by Steve K. Smith…….
‘We saved the taxpayers $2 Million!’ said the FKMCD chair recently on US1 radio.
Chairman Goodman, the majority did NOT save the taxpayers any money. Our taxes will go up this year and for the next two years. What the majority did was delay the inevitable and wasted an additional million or so of our taxpayer dollars. I do not support their decision.
The City of Key West decided we had to move, we did not make that call. The City Manager was very specific, stating in September, 2008, they ‘would not recommend selling property or extending our lease’ that was set to end in 2012. We have had years to address this.
Knowing since 2008 we would have to vacate the building, there was no money set aside to build a Lower Keys operations center. ‘We are not a bank’, said one of the commissioners, ‘we have to give this money back’.
After wiping out $5 million in reserves, the majority reacted with shock and awe when it realized that mosquito control could no longer plan on staying in the Key West operations building. Building a replacement operations facility 3, 4 or 5 years ago would have most likely saved $2 million.
Now our back is to the wall with a clock ticking toward 12/31/2018, when we must ‘cease operations’ at the ops center for the largest city in the Keys where as many as 35 staff members who serve Key West and the lower Keys are based.
Against staff recommendation, the budget vote increased our taxes this coming year, and our taxes will go up for 2018 and 2019 in order to complete the operations center. Had the majority supported the proposed budget, we all would have paid more in 2017 and our taxes would have gone below rollback the next two years.
The vote dropped the increase for the average homeowner $36.95 and guaranteed that we will all pay more the next two years.
I am proud of the accomplishments FKMCD has made, our experienced staff, and the reputation we have as the ‘best mosquito control program in the Nation’. It has been my policy to plan for the future and have adequate reserves for the worst case scenario while hoping for the best case scenario. I plan to continue making the best possible choices to protect the health and wellbeing of our residents and visitors. I regret that my fellow commissioners do not concur.
Steve K. Smith, Mosquito Control Board Commissioner