Let’s talk traffic study, sales tax holiday and the budget in Monroe County

Monroe County Commissioner and Mayor Pro Tem Holly Raschein joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM yesterday morning to talk about what’s going on in the county.

The state has been working hard to help those in areas damaged by Hurricane Idalia.

Raschein said, “Our governor made sure that teams were pre-positioned and that folks are ready to get out there and help people start putting their lives back together.”

Mike Stapleford of KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM noted, “We certainly want to give our thanks to everybody who helped with that coordination and also the emergency management folks here in Monroe County. Shannon Weiner, and her entire team did an excellent job of staying in constant contact, and coordinating any efforts that were needed before, during and after the storm as well.”

“For sure,” Raschein agreed.

Budget season is underway for Monroe County.

Raschein said, “I’ve received a couple inquiries, not really a big showing of folks wanting to have any input. I thought that we would get a little more folks reaching out and expressing some support or not, maybe asking some questions. I have had a couple calls with our budget director, Tina Boan, she knows this thing inside and out and is able to explain why we’re doing what we’re doing. It’s not too late for folks to touch base with myself or my fellow Commissioners, because we are getting ready to have a couple more meetings. We have one on the sixth. We’ve got another one I believe on the 12th and then we’ve got a pretty jam packed regular commission meeting, you know, we took the month of August off. So all of that sort of backlog we’re going to tackle at our September 20 meeting up in Key Largo. I think it’s going to be a really productive meeting. I’m really looking forward to it.”

The disaster preparedness sales tax holiday will continue through September 8.

Raschein said, “This is actually round two, you get a second bite of the apple for a disaster, sales tax holiday. I think that speaks to the state and certainly us down at the local level wanting to utilize that opportunity and take advantage of that opportunity to restock our supplies. I think sometimes, certainly in the Keys, we get a little complacent. We’re very used to hurricanes and storms and watches and tropical storms, but that doesn’t mean that we need to be negligent and not make sure that we’re prepared. So I encourage folks to get out there, go to our local hardware stores, go to our local business owners, stock up take advantage of these savings. Anytime you can keep some money and cash in your pocket book, it’s a good idea.”

The Arterial Travel Time and Delay Study was release about US 1 recently and it could have impact for the future.

Raschein said, “That’s something that I think will take a little time to sort of take a deep dive into and look at what affects this study. What are the major bottlenecks? Our transit director is really up to speed on this. He’s been in the community giving presentations on things that we’re working on to alleviate this congestion. I do remind folks, we have one main highway and when you only have one point of access, it can tend to get bogged down and big holiday weekends or if there’s an accident, that boat falls off a trailer, I mean, you name it, it can happen. I know we had a structure fire that shut down the highway. I think it was earlier this week or late last week. It’s just an ever-moving, ever-changing target on trying to relieve some of that that traffic. I know that they did conduct a study when we had the water main break. They reportedly adjusted the study for that, but how is that accurate? So I’m interested to ask some questions, kind of get an explanation for what does that really look like? We know we have issues, especially in the Upper Keys, and I think the bottom line is everybody wants to find their solutions. It’s impossible to tell people not to come to the Keys. I mean, who wouldn’t want to come to the Keys and enjoy our beauty and what we have to offer? So like I always say it’s about finding balance. I think it’s something that is one of those top three issues that faces our community and something that needs to be discussed and needs to remain on the front burner. I’m very eager to have that discussion.”