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An Information Guide to Duck Key in the Florida Keys


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Duck Key Wastewater

 

Summer Fall 2005 - News Highlights

Wastewater - After months of bickering the County Commissioners have finally forged an agreement over wastewater with the FKAA. A Key West Citizen reporter wrote the "County Commission spent nearly four hours Tuesday haggling over details of the financing and ownership of sewer systems, before unanimously approving a partnership agreement with the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority."

Toward the end of the dispute Commissioner McCoy had posted the Commission's "majority" position on the County website and County television. The County also paid to have McCoy's "To Sewer the Keys" letter appear as a newspaper ad. Aqueduct Authority Executive Director Jim Reynolds expressed that misinformation was being distributed. "It does nothing to move these projects forward in a positive manner."To read McCoy's letter go to "To Sewer the Keys". It is stored in pdf format.
The Aqueduct Authority responded to McCoy's letter on their website. To read the Aqueduct's response go to fkaa response (pdf format).

The editor of the Independent newspaper, Dave Whitney, criticized the "dynamic trio of Mayor Dixie Spehar and Commissioners Murray Nelson and Charles “Sonny” McCoy". He wrote

"A real donnybrook seems to be breaking out around county government over the future of wastewater treatment systems.
It’s beginning to stink like the sewage it addresses.
I can’t even fathom trying to report all the fingerpointing, but we’ve put an extra letters section in this issue just so you can read the mail that is flying back and forth over the issue.
Seems like the dynamic trio of Mayor Dixie Spehar and Commissioners Murray Nelson and Charles “Sonny” McCoy are smarting after losing their bid to gain control of the
Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority when Gov. Jeb Bush vetoed State Rep. Ken Sorensen’s bill to change the FKAA from an appointed (by the governor) board to an elected one.
On the winning side of that were County Commissioners David Rice and George Nugent. Rice’s wife, Mary, is the chairman of the board of FKAA.
But the donnybrook may run deeper. David Rice has announced his intention to seek Sorensen’s seat in the Florida House next. Sorensen can’t run again because of term limits.
That will mean he won’t be on the county commission after next year. It’s highly unlikely he would run for both offices.
So, part of the power politicking that’s taking place may really be for absolute control of the county commission rather than the FKAA.
It will be interesting to watch now that the dynamic trio has thumbed their noses at Tallahassee over future sewer funding in the Keys."

 

News distributed to Duck Key propertry owners indicated that the Aqueduct Authority has had the support of the Property Owners' Association [DKPOA] through it wastewater advisory committee. DKPOA joined with several lower keys community groups to form the m10 Coalition in an to attempt to restart wastewater projects. Bill McHale, represents the Duck Key Property Owners Association on the M-10 Coalition.

An open letter to editors of local newspapers from the M-10 Coalition stated,

"The M-10 Coalition, an alliance of property owner associations and individual citizens from the Middle and Lower Keys has been following the recent spate of letters, and reports from various sources regarding the cost of wastewater systems in Monroe County.

Most of these numbers, and the various conclusions offered, have originated with the Monroe Board Of County Commissioners or the County Administrator, and appear aimed at discrediting the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority, which recently affirmed its role as the wastewater authority for unincorporated Monroe County.

Since its inception, the M-10 Coalition has urged a partnership between the Monroe County Board of Commissioners and the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority in an effort to ensure that the best possible wastewater treatment systems, built at the lowest possible cost, could be provided for Keys property owners.

During a public comment portion of the April 20 meeting of the BOCC in Key West, the M-10 Coalition spokesman said:

"We are hopeful that the FKAA, as it works through the process of designing systems and developing Requests for Proposals, will listen to the staff of the County Commission and accept their input, and where appropriate, incorporate their suggestions and concerns into the project design. At the same time, we are urging the County Commission to aggressively pursue the money needed to build these wastewater systems."

On July 14, the M-10 Coalition sent a letter to County Commissioner Charles "Sonny" McCoy asking him, in his role as wastewater liaison for the County Commission, to take the lead in developing a countywide plan for funding the cost of the wastewater systems that remain to be built.

To date, we have not received a response from Commissioner McCoy.

However, we believe that if the taxpayers of Monroe County demand it, and if the County Commission and the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority make a cooperative effort, we can meet the legislatively established mandate of 2010 for completing the "sewering" of the Keys in a way that is fair and affordable to all.

We would like to see an effort made to determine the cost per EDU (average household) for the wastewater systems that remain to be built in Monroe County.

For our discussion, assume the countywide average can be set at $15,000.

This cost would be split three ways: $5,000 provided by state grants, $5,000 provided through county grants and $5,000 paid by the property owner, with the property owner's portion financed over 20 years (approximately $25 per month).

In addition, property owners would be responsible for the cost of the plumbing hook-up from their house or building to the street.

Funding from other sources, such as federal grants or additional state appropriations, could be put into the countywide "pot" to help reduce the cost to property owners.

Our hope was — and is — that all of the property owners in the county who do not yet have a wastewater system in their area, be treated equitably from a cost standpoint and, just as importantly, all should have the same high level of service from their sewer system and the system operator.

Dick Shetzer, Seaside Resort Inc.

Jack Morris, Seaside Resort Inc.

Bill McHale, Duck Key Property Owners Association

Kit Larsen, Big Coppitt Key

Glen Owens, Tamarac Park Property Owners Association

Don Riggs, Tamarac Park Property Owners Association"

 

Finally the Governor stepped into the dispute between the FKAA and the Coiunty Commission and let the County Commissioners know they had better work to resolve differences.

For a time the Keynoter conducted a poll. The Keynoter asked in its - Online Poll

"Who is best suited to sewer the unincorporated Keys and city of Marathon, the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority or the Monroe County Commision and Marathon City Council?"

The results showed that 80.5% voted in favor of the Aqueduct Authority, since it already has the administrative infrastructure in place.

Of the 435 online poll
19.5% voted that the County Commission and City Council, since sewers should be a municipal function.


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THE AGREEMENT

County will own the wastewater infrastructure with the FKAA responsible for construction, operation, and maintainence of the facilities.
 
The Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority acquired the Hawks' Cay sewage treatment plant for $10 as part of the agreement which allowed for the Hawk's Cay expansion. The plant will be upgraded to meet Federal mandates for advanced wastewater treatment and will service Conch Key and Duck Key.
 
Information provided to date estimates the cost for the improvements will be around $2,915,000 with Hawks' Cay Resort and the Village Association paying $1,292,000.

Conch Key and Duck Key property owners will each pay $338,000 and $786,000 respectively, plus an additional $509,000 will be divided between the two islands.
 
Part of a report by the Wastewater Committee on the DKPOA website is provided below:


"... $509,000 will be divided between Conch Key and (Duck Key) since the addition of the two keys is the reason for expanding the plant's capacity. We represent 70% of the additional equivalent dwelling units (EDUs) added to the collection system and, therefore, we assume that Duck Key will pick up $356,300 of the capacity charge. This will bring our islands' plant assessment to $1,142,300.
 
There will also be a design assessment that is currently based on the most expensive collection system (Gravity) and will add $500,000 to the plant cost. This brings the total to $1,642,000 or an estimated $4,391 per home owner. Please note that this does not include the cost per EDU of installing the collection system and that, as new homes come on line, the current home owners' assessments will be reduced. The assessment can,of course, be paid over time and there are strong indications that County and State funding will help pay down our debt."
 


 
DKPOA also reports that in early October 2005 County Administrator Tom Willi at Commissioner Rice's request, stated that Duck Key will receive similar benefits and funding support that has been promised to the lower keys with $4,500 as the per EDU fee target fee for ratepayers throughout the County. Willi cautions, " Future costs for construction are expected to increase but it would be my recommendation not to stray too far from this target figure and rely on other funding sources to make up the deficit."

 

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