Key West City Commission is hard at work – even in the summer

Sam Kaufman, Vice Mayor for the City of Key West, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM to talk about what’s been going on in the city.

The city commission will being their new schedule for meetings this week.

Kaufman explained, “The new procedure is involving a once a month meeting instead of twice a month, and it will be split into two sessions. Everyone out there who wants to provide public input and speak on any item can sign up in advance, can call city hall or email either the clerk or city manager or the City Commission or the mayor, and be put on the list to speak either in the morning or in the evening.”

The city commission will meet at 9 a.m. on Thursday in City Hall on White Street. A second session will follow at 5 p.m.

Kaufman pointed out, “There are over well over 50 items on the agenda on Thursday. You know, as in every meeting, there are those routine items that most members of the public may not be that interested in. There are always in meetings two, three or four items, usually, that the public is more tuned into. And those are the items that we expect probably will be moved to the evening session at 5pm. And so it’s really positive, from the point of view of staff efficiency, and having our taxpayers work best for us as a community. Because all the staff members who work during the day, then they have to work all night as well, when the meetings are only in the evening. And this way, many of the staff members can take care of the business that’s needed to conduct for the for the city during the day of the meeting and only once a month, which also can help produce more staff efficiency.”

This is an initiative brought forth by the new city manager hired a few months ago.

Kaufman said, “I think it’s a good one because if you could imagine having meetings twice a month, what it does is, once one staff finishes a meeting, they have to turn around and get ready for the next meeting. It’s always about just preparing for meetings, as opposed to just focusing on getting the work done. So from that perspective, productivity is sort of hampered when there were so many meetings, and it’s just focused on meetings. I think that’s a good change, we should give it a chance and see how it works.”

In terms of Monroe County possibly becoming a charter county, there’s a lot of discussion to be had before anything would happen.

Kaufman said, “I think that the commission is going to want to understand what the benefits might be. So far we’ve been informed that there may be some positive revenue implications. Anything that would lessen the burden on taxpayers as far as funding for our services, and the $225 million annual city budget, my ears are open to consider the possibility of change. On the other hand, we want to know what the negative possibilities are. So I really don’t know enough about it, but I know we will have a presentation. I think it’ll be in July, on that subject. And then we’ll be able to take a position one way or the other.”

Key West has been looking at changing the noise ordinance in the city with various workshops recently.

Kaufman said, “My understanding is that there will be one more workshop to bring all the ideas together, they will be summarized. And then the city staff, along with, specifically the city legal department, will be bringing forth an ordinance change. There is no specific ordinance change, as far as I know, according to the city manager that is being proposed, or that is being promoted. So really, I think it’s up in the air. Other commissioners may have very specific ideas, especially, you know, the commissioners who represent Old Town. I think everyone on the City Commission really wants to emphasize that neighbors should be working together. We really shouldn’t have to regulate common sense or courtesy between neighbors. And unfortunately, sometimes that the new laws need to be created. But it’s always better if neighbors can work together. And we want to emphasize that.”

When the issue of cruise ships came back around recently, the city commission decided not to get involved.

Kaufman explained, “Both the leaderships of both organizations of groups, came to the City Commission and said we do not want the City Commission to take a position on this. So out of respect and courtesy to these entities and all the people that came in their leadership, that’s why the City Commission didn’t take a vote. So it’s a unique situation. And I would I would think that most people would want us to take a vote one way or the other.”

One piece of Key West that really keeps everything running is the staff.

Kaufman said, “We have some really great staff people in the city and it’s great that you’re featuring them on your on your radio program. Thank you, because most people in the public don’t realize like how strong the department heads are in the city and staff.”

The city clerk will be retiring next month, so the commissioners will decide on that position soon.

Kaufman explained, “There’s two very highly qualified candidates, both from within City Hall that the City Commission will vote on. It’ll be very interesting to see what the vote is. It’s a charter position, one of the three charter positions that the City Commission hires.”

Affordable housing is always an issue in the Keys, but the city has hired an affordable housing director.

Kaufman said, “On Thursday, we’re funding the Move in Assistance Program, which some of us have been very vocal about reinstating. It’s to help people get into apartments. When apartments have a first month and last month and security deposit of nine or 10, or 11, or $12,000, a lot of our workforce just can’t afford to get into an apartment. This program that hasn’t been funded in, at least the last eight years that I’ve been on the City Commission, we’re funding it on Thursday. So I’m very thankful for that.”

The new housing director his helping to reinstate that program.

Kaufman said, “And many, many other things that she’s working on. So we’re very happy that she’s on board.”