Our Key West Mayor is preparing for the State of the City address

Key West Mayor Teri Johnston joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to talk about what’s been going on in the city.

The State of the City address is coming up soon.

Johnston said, “It’s a fascinating exercise every year because you take a look at the year gone by, and what we’ve accomplished as the city of Key West, and what we have yet to accomplish, because I like to take a look at both. We certainly have some challenges out there, some are within our purview and within our control and some venture outside, at the state level and the federal level. So, I’m going to really focus on where we’re at right now, financially, which is like almost every other year that I have given the State of the City, we’re in great shape financially. We’re a very responsible city as far as what we spend. We normally have the money before we spend it and we’ve been very, very conservative as a community. We are taking a look, though, I will tell you this year at bonding out some of our issues, because we’ve got a lot of very high ticket items that we’ve got to take a look at. We normally approach this by let’s save, and save and save and save. Well, what we’re doing in that aspect is we’re allowing things to continue to deteriorate to the point where the cost of repairing them or replacing them is 10 times higher than had we moved a little quicker. So we’re going to take a look at that, at bonding out some things like our beloved MLK pool, which is in very, very serious condition structurally. So we’re looking at that, along with some major areas in the city of Key West, the southernmost point, which is the most visited spot in the city of Key West, making some renovations there. Mallory Square, Duvall Street, really investing in the areas that have been very good to the city of Key West. So we’ve got some work to do and I think that will be a change for our taxpayers to take a look at handling things in this manner. But I think it’s going to be very prudent for us in the long run. We have a staff that they are working overtime, to improve the quality of life in the city of Key West, make sure that we’re structurally sound, that we’ve got the infrastructure, to manage the number of people that come in not only that live here, that that visit us on a daily basis. That’s really a challenge, because our infrastructure goes through quite a quite a stress and strain, when you open up your doors, and you invite 75,000 or 100,000 people into your community for a short period of time, and then they leave. So we’re trying to make sure that we have all of our ducks in a row for 2024 and that we can continue to improve our community. So it’s a wonderful spot, to live, to raise a family and also to visit.”

A lot of projects in Key West focus on longevity.

Johnston said, “It is so important. One of the things that we’re starting to do now is that when you create a new project, you also create a maintenance budget for it, through the life expectancy of that facility. Just one of the things that I’m most excited about with our Mallory Square revitalization is that part of the responsibilities of the crew that we brought in from Boston to help us with that, is that they are identifying revenue sources, so that it’s not a tax burden on our community. It pays for itself year after year after year. That’s the eye in which which we’re building this project is what can we do to enhance our community, to provide free activities for our families here in our community, but also to be a revenue generator so it’s self sustaining.”

New Year’s Eve is one of the biggest events every year and it’s just around the corner. Indeed, CNN will be here.

Johnston said, “Our community services department does a marvelous job. And kudos to Chief Brandenburg and his team of men and women, along with all the law enforcement agencies that the chief counts on to keep the city safe during these major events. But when you think about it, Duvall Street is 50 feet from storefront to storefront and we pack a whole lot of people down there. We are going to have no less than seven drops this year. So hopefully the crowd will be able to disperse between Sloppy Joes and all the way up to 801 Bourbon. So hopefully they’ll disperse around the city so that everyone has a very good time and remain safe.”

The mayor will be speaking to a whole lot of organizations in January.

Johnston said, “It’s a good opportunity also for all these different organizations to get to ask questions that are germane to their organization. The city does what the city does, but we also have so many other nonprofits and organizations like the Lodging Association and the Key West Association of Realtors, the Chamber of Commerce, the business guilds, all of our Rotaries, we have so many groups that contribute to Key West being who we are.”

New Year is a time to both reflect and look forward.

Johnston said, “The things that I would like most is I would like everyone to get engaged in the city of Key West. You hear so many people say well, we start a major project and we hear so many people say well, I didn’t know you were going to do that and I would have liked to be involved. We go to all ends. We have a public information officer who does an incredible job of notifying people what the city of Key West is contemplating. We have workshops. Last year we held, I think 48 workshops, public workshops, which gives people an opportunity to come and give their opinions and their thoughts and what they would like to see in places like Bayview Park and Duvall Street and Mallory Square and our Truman Waterfront Park. So we have really done a good job of notifying people. What we need now is and I know everybody’s busy, they’re trying to raise a family, they’re trying to work two and three jobs. But what we need is input. Because we want to hear from every single person here that contributes to this community. So that we’re moving in the right direction, because these projects are major, major high dollar projects. We want to make sure that we get it right and we get it right the first time. So that’s what I’d love to see. I’d love to hear from more individuals in our community. I’d love for more people to show up at our meetings, to email us or text us or whatever communication you have to live by. Please let us know. Because we really do, every single day we try and do the right thing that’s going to benefit the majority of the people for the long term in Key West.”

The city commission is also kept very informed and that information is provided to the community.

Johnston said, “Al Childress, our city manager, communicates with the Commission, two, three or four times a week when a major thing comes up. It’s called a Letter to the Commission, an LTC and after he communicates with all of the commissioners and the mayor also puts that on his website. So every single person has access to the information that’s being communicated to us by the city manager. It’s just a wealth of information. I had someone say, well, how can I keep up on the city? I said, just get on the city manager’s website. The city manager has listed every letter to commission that he has published. So it’s a great way to stay up on any issue that we have.”

To see that page, click here:  https://www.cityofkeywest-fl.gov/395/Office-of-the-City-Manager