Monroe County looks at a new online permit system, licensing issues for contractors and new trash cans at bus stops

September 20 — Monroe County Commissioners and staff juggle a whole lot during the year and that certainly continues as we move into the fall. 

Kristen Livengood, Public Information Officer for Monroe County, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM to talk about what’s going on in the county. 

It’s important to remember hurricane season is still upon us. 

Livengood said, “I’m always pushing the emergency management perspective. I’m sure your listeners are definitely prepared because we’re very lucky that Fiona didn’t head towards us this time, but we’re at the height of hurricane season right now, and it’s very likely that we could get a tropical storm or something later on in the season. Everyone needs to know in the Florida Keys where they’re going to go if we have to evacuate or what we need if we were to lose power for a few days.” 

Even a small tropical storm can affect electricity. So it’s important to be ready for what could be coming from Mother Nature. 

Mike Stapleford of KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM said, “People might get a little tired of hearing us talk about it, hearing me harp on it day after day, but an entire bridge in Puerto Rico was just swept away by floods. That could easily happen here as well.” 

The new permit system for the county will be going live on October 3. No paper applications will be accepted after that date. If you already have a paper application in right now, that will be processed, but no paper apps will be done after October 3. 

Livengood said, “Everything from submitting your plans, going through the entire process of printing out the permit to actually hang in your business.” 

For more information, click here:

Livengood reminded, “There’s going to be a little bit of a learning curve, but hopefully it will be a smooth transition to this new process, really bringing us into the 21st century now.” 

A bill in the Florida State House that passed in 2021 will affect Monroe County contractors. 

Livengood said, “When this House bill passed last July it gave a two year window so come July 2023 there’s going to be I think about 400 local contractors in Monroe County that will lose their ability to pull permits essentially in Monroe County. A lot of them their permits only transition to a state level at a general contractor level. So people who have speciality licenses for signs, for paving for things like that locally, they would then not be able to pull the permits. A lot of times if they’re not licensed, they’re not going to be able to get workman’s comp insurance, have any of those other safety insurances for doing work at your house. It essentially comes down to being a pretty bad situation having unlicensed contractors in Monroe County.” 

A gentleman at the Contractor Examining Board meeting last week said he’s been locally licensed for 30 years in Monroe County and has no issues at all. He said he really doesn’t have the time to go to Tallahassee to study, take an exam and take time off work, as well as the expense of traveling. 

Livengood pointed out, “We’re not the only county that’s having this issue. There are several other counties in the state of Florida that are finding that this is upsetting their locally licensed contractors as well and just adding an extra burden. They don’t think that that was the idea of the bill.”

At the August Board of County Commissioners meeting, smoking was banned at parks and beaches with the exception of cigars. 

Livengood said, “It will be nice because from an environmental standpoint, cigarette butts take up a lot of area at our parks and beaches and it will be nice to maybe not see so much of those.” 

Additionally, cigarette filters don’t degrade and can do damage to the oceans as well. 

Trash cans will be changed out in bus stops in the lower Keys because of phone calls about the cans overflowing and wildlife getting into them. 

County staff and commissioners worked with Waste Management to change out the trash cans to hopefully help the issue. 

Livengood said, “It’ll be a nice upgrade for our bus stops.” 

The Board of County Commissioners will meet tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. in the Murray E. Nelson Government Center. 

For the agenda, click here:

Following that meeting, the commissioners will have a final budget hearing for the fiscal year 2023. 

Livengood said, “Once that’s finalized after 5:05 p.m., that budget will then go into effect October 1.” 

Citizens can participate in person or via Zoom at those meetings.