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An Information Guide to Duck Key in the Florida Keys


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Board of County Commissioners Meeting - Key Largo July 2003

 

Commissioners consider choices for Implementing Smart Growth/ Tier System

 

Monroe County's Rate of Growth Plan which limits the number of building permits to be allocated each year has worked since its inception because property owners have not decided in unison to submit requests for building permits. Had property owners done so the county would not have had sufficient funds to compensate land owners prevented from building on sensitive lands.

County Commissioners has been reluctant to adopt the new Smart Growth/Tier system method of identifying sensitive lands for acquisition without a funding mechanism since under the new plan hundreds of fair-market-value land purchases might come due coming due all at once. The new tier system would replace the county's rate of growth ordinance regulating development in unincorporated portions of Monroe.

In order to meet state mandates to purchase conservation land , the County needs to find funds quickly to compensate land owners. Should they be unable to satisfy the state the county is faced with a possible cut back of ROGO permits from the state.

 Estimates as to the cost of buying sensitive lands range between tens of millions to hundreds of millions of dollars.

The County Commissioner have been discussing alternatives for finding funds to purchase conservation land for some months now. Early on State representaive Sorenson put forth a plan to tax home sales on a sliding scale staring at 2%. Such a plan placees the burden of land acquisition on property owners.

Another plan put forth by County staff would utilize a 4-cent per gallon of gas tax that would be paid by the 3 million visitors who visit the Keys teach year, as well as county residents. A feature of the tax is that approximately 60 percent of all gas tax is paid by tourists and visitors, but a gas tax initative would require legislative approval, as state law directs that such revenue be used for to road repairs and highway improvements.

Commissioner Charles "Sonny" McCoy states, "The tier system is falling to pieces. Even state statutes have a problem with it, so we should go with whatever we can to buy some of those pristine lands."

Commissioner George Neugent would like set aside at least $1 million a year from the local infrastructure sales tax, to fund the purchase conservation land. Three of the five commissioners have not supported his plan, and Nugent believes that the incorporated cities of the Florida Keys did not seem interested either. Nugents stated that local funds would be matched by the state and federal funds.

Commissioner Murray Nelson wants any plan the Commissioners choose to be voted on as a referendum. While County Commissioners are empowered to adopt any such tax without voter approval, Commissioner McCoy also would be in favor of a referendum to decide the gas tax issue.

Commissioner Nelson who earlier had drawn up his own plan for raising land acquisition funds suggested that the state Legislature might allow the county to utilze gas tax revenue for land acquisition since the state has designated Monroe County an Area of Critical State Concern.

Commissioner Dixie Spehar seemed be calling for a go slow approach on establishing a source of funding for sensitive lands, and viewed the 4-cent gas tax as extreme. She counciled that the State's mandate was unfunded and that the Commission must demand that State and Federal goverments must each match the County's one third share of expenses for buying sensitive land.

 


 

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