With the State of County released recently in Monroe County, there’s a lot of information there.
Monroe County Commissioner for District 2 Michelle Lincoln joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to talk about what’s been going on in the county.
The books are at different government centers and the libraries for residents who would like to dig into information in the county.
Lincoln said, “We don’t just have one county government building and we don’t just have one or two parks or one or two libraries because we’re 120 miles linear, we have to take care of the needs up and down the Keys.”
The county is responsible for two different airports, 23 parks and beaches, eight boat ramps, one community pool, 311 miles of county roads, 26 county-owned bridges, five libraries, three government centers, three courthouses, four senior centers, four museums, nine fire stations, a fire training center and the medical examiner building as well as the state attorney and public defender facilities and several historical buildings.
Lincoln said, “That is a lot of infrastructure that the county is responsible for.”
The population is 82,874 people.
“That number quadruples in season,” Lincoln pointed out. “We’re definitely in season right now.”
Keeping in mind all those people are included in a very linear piece of land — something not many other counties have to contend with.
Lincoln said, “Our budget for the year 2023 is $519.7 million. Of that, only 40 percent goes for the operation of the county. That includes 24 different departments like employee services, solid waste and the very important fire rescue.”
Only 20 percent of the budget is funded by the ad valorem taxes.
Additionally, Monroe County has the lowest millage rate in the state of Florida.
Lincoln said, “We also take care of the county our constitutional officers budget. So the sheriff’s department, the supervisor of elections, the clerk of court, and our property appraisers all have their budget included with our budget. The top budget getters are our level or service, whether it’s our fire rescue, our sheriff’s department, our solid waste management. The things that we really require every day is what the majority of our budget goes to. As it should.”
Part of Monroe County’s budget looks to Tallahassee as well as Washington, DC, for help.
Lincoln said, “The legislative session started this week, so we have already been there. There’s a group of us that will be going back this coming week for the Florida Association of Counties and I’ll be one of those people going back to Tallahassee and every time I’m there I’m reminding everyone of the priority to fund the Florida Keys Stewardship Act, which is a $20 million ask. My understanding is it’s in this year’s budget for the governor, which sits very well for us here in the county, but not only do we go and ask for those funds, we’re also asking this year for funds to complete our Emergency Operations Center.”
Affordable housing, insurance rates, contractor licensing are all issues for the current legislative session.
Lincoln said, “House bill 735 to protect our local contractors is extremely important to our county, to our leadership here. We do have some good support there as well.”
The kick off of the 200th bicentennial celebration will be held on March 25 at the Coffee Butler Amphitheater in Key West.
Lincoln said, “It will be a free concert and drone show and historical review over the past 200 years. It should be a very fun evening under the stars. It’s free to all of our residents and tourists alike.”