Let’s check in with Monroe County Mayor Craig Cates

With the upcoming legislative session, Monroe County has a list of needs that will help keep the Keys thriving.

Monroe County Mayor Craig Cates joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to talk about what’s going on in the Keys.

The legislative agenda that has been presented by the Monroe County Commissioners will be worked on in the coming days.

One item on that list is the $25 million Florida Keys Stewardship Act appropriation for water quality and land acquisition.

Cates said, “We do go back to the well each year. Fortunately they have been granting the money, appropriating it to the Florida Keys. Twenty million of it goes to water quality, cleaning the canals and then $5 for purchasing land.”

The Land Authority is working on purchasing the land and it will be sold back to the state so the Keys can be preserved.

The county is also asking for money for mooring fields.

Cates said, “We’ve laid out where two mooring fields will be down in the southern part of the Keys and now we’re going to try to get the funding and to permit it and design and build.”

It will be much safer for the live-aboards with extra mooring fields when storms come in.

Cates said, “It’s a win/win and we’re moving forward with that.”

The county is also asking for $6 million to help with the Emergency Operations Center, which broke ground earlier this year.

Cates said, “We have gotten help from the state already and the federal government to build it, but because of increased construction as we all know and the cost of inflation, it has gone up some. So we want to continue to build the same building that was designed originally without having to make any changes, so we’re going to try to get that funding also to make up the short fall.”

In terms of the Rate of Growth Ordinance building permits, the county is waiting to see what happens in Marathon.

Cates explained, “Marathon has gone and they have built some units with those ROGOs and now they have taken them back, so they have units there that can’t be lived in and they’re going to be trying to have the legislature maybe change the rules for them. We support the 300 units with a 48-hour evacuation, but we don’t support, I don’t personally and I don’t think the commission does to make any changes to the Rate of Growth Ordinance and the units that are already allotted and change the evacuation. We all are concerned about the growth in the Keys and public safety and all. We didn’t say that we support them 100 percent. We’re waiting to see and want to be part of the discussion as this moves forward to get our opinion in there.”

A Florida House bill that was passed in 2021 for licensing for local contractors and trades people has been a bit of an issue for the county.

Cates said, “It was a great idea, what they thought they were going to accomplish with this in Tallahassee but when they put it in place, it’s been very difficult. It’s very important that we license these repair facilities, service facilities, landscapers, so we know that they are reputable, they have insurance, they’re following the rules and people have some kind of recourse if they don’t do the work properly. That’s important to have. Well Tallahassee wanted to eliminate all that and these people can’t pull a permit to do the work because that’s our regulation that you have to pull a permit to do that, so we can make sure the job is done right for our citizens. The permit is not just to make money off of, it’s to ensure the work is done, quality work and safely by a reputable repair facility or contractor or repair man. We’re trying to work through that and I think it’s important. I think they realize that it’s not working out like they planned, so hopefully enough counties and cities are talking with them that they may repeal that or change it to where it will work properly.”

The county commissioners are also trying to preserve affordable wind insurance.

Cates said, “I think that’s an ongoing issue that we continue to work on and hopefully we can make a difference there.”

The final commission meeting for the year will be held on December 7. For the agenda, click here: http://monroecountyfl.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_Meeting.aspx?ID=1165