Jul 222016


Dear Editor,

Recently we’ve read some pretty wild claims about Mosquito Control Board commissioners. We’ve read that they earn outrageous amounts of money and that they do little or nothing. Friends, it jest ain’t so!

Here’s the facts: Mosquito Control Board members are elected officials. They meet between 14-16 times per year. The meetings are held in various places up and down the Keys. Usually, on their meeting days, they hold a public meeting, when that meeting is concluded, then other work shop meetings are held. Typically on meeting days the attending members will spend 6-8 hours in the meetings. But the job doesn’t begin and end with the meetings.

Board members, at least those board members who are serious about their responsibilities, spend up to a couple of hours a day involved with tasks such as research, communicating with persons who have contacted them about board business, site visits, public outreach, reading and answering e-mails, and sundry other board business. It’s safe to say that a board member will spend up to 8-10 hours a week engaged in board business.

Let’s consider that’s about 500 hours a year. Then add the @ 96 hours a year spent in routine meetings and workshops. Then add the time spent preparing for and then traveling to and from meetings. Then add the time spent attending out of area conferences and sundry other duties. A dedicated board member will devote well in excess of 600 hours per year if he/she is doing their job properly.

The salary of board members used to be about $23k per year. Thanks to the efforts of a couple of Conservative board members, that salary was cut to about $18K. Conservative commissioners tried to get it reduced again, but other board members, including Steve Smith, blocked their efforts.

Board members do not get cars, but they do get a mileage allowance for their travel to and from their residence to the point where the meetings or other board business is conducted. The rate is set by state law, not the board. Additionally, each member receives a small meal allowance on meeting days, again as provided by state law to all state staffers. And yes, board members do receive the exact same health care benefits that every other Mosquito Control staffer receives.

Don’t get me wrong, there have been some massive screw ups from the board.

One of them is the $6 million Taj Mahal of a facility that is being being built on Big Coppit. That $6 mil is just for openers…wait for the cost overruns. This facility is going to cost you millions. It is a massive waste of your hard earned tax dollars.

Why? Because they are building a magnificent office structure, but only a garage and warehouse are needed. Steel buildings would have served perfectly. The shining, architecturally elegant, new edifice is being built simply because a couple of long time staffers are reluctant to drive to Marathon where a just dandy nearly new administrative building is located. The Marathon facility has empty office space aplenty, it is beautiful, efficient, and is only a few years old. We spent nearly $8 million tax dollars for this wildly underused administrative facility.

The whining and wheedling of a couple of staffers apparently struck a nerve with Commissioner Steve Smith which in turn led to his avid support for the Skeeter Money Pit. It’s reported that this privileged pair simply does not want to have to drive to Marathon from Key West where they live to go to work. Smith was/is passionate in his zeal to get the Skeeter Money Pit built. Isn’t that just so sweet that Mr. Smith is so concerned about the commute of a couple of staffers that he is anxious to spend millions to keep that commute to a minimum!

Did I mention that the new $6 mil Skeeter Money Pit is largely responsible for a 19% hike in the 2017 Mosquito Control budget?

In this olde world…it ain’t what you know…it’s who!

Walter Lagraves, Big Pine Key

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 July 22, 2016  Posted by at 12:24 am Issue #176, Letter to the Editor  Add comments

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