Road flooding, becoming a charter county and the potential judicial consolidation are on the minds of Monroe County Commissioners

Holly Merrill Raschein, Mayor Pro Tem for Monroe County, joined Good Moring Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to talk about what’s been going on in the county.

A workshop in December will discuss road flooding.

Raschein said, “There’s not a day that goes by especially when we have a big rain or a storm, obviously, we’re in king tide season. Of course, when it’s a full moon, it exacerbates the issue. So we’ve got a lot of low lying areas in the Upper Keys, I know the Lower Keys do as well as the entire island chain. I mean, it’s kind of a reality of island life. We are we are seeing rising tides, rising seas and we are having to adapt to that. Folks are experiencing quality of life issues, public safety. Sometimes the waste management folks can’t get back in there and do their thing. The US Postal Service has a hard time when the water gets too deep. Vehicles are being ruined by the saltwater. It’s a pretty complicated issue. There are some band aids we can put on it. There’s some more aggressive long term fixes we can put in place. We did hear from a number of folks in the Upper Keys at our last commission meeting. I understand their frustration. It’s complex, it’s expensive, but we need to do something and we need to move as quickly as possible. So we are going to have a workshop. I think it’s the day before our regular commission meeting in December. So looking forward to that. We’ll get all of our roads and bridges and our engineering department at the table and we will have a very open and frank discussion.”

The talk about Monroe County becoming a charter government is still going on.

Raschein said, “We’ve got a draft resolution that our county attorney has put together for us to take a look at. We are going to be hearing an update from him. He has been going around to different community groups. He’s got a PowerPoint that sort of walks through the definition of a charter county versus just a regular county, how many counties in Florida are under this sort of form of government. Obviously, there’s lots of questions. It’s new, it’s kind of a big change in how we govern our county. We certainly haven’t moved forward. I still have questions. I honestly still have some concerns. We’ve heard a number of folks express their opinions and thoughts. Please keep those coming in. Please take a look at the information that is available. You can always reach out to me I can send you more details. I also want to know what are some other options? Because this is a pretty big change. Life goes on pretty well here down in the Keys. If not becoming a charter county, folks say they vote it down or say it doesn’t even make it to the ballot, what are some other options? I think that’s what we’re going to be discussing. But I still feel like we’re kind of in the early stages. I still have some questions and some concerns.”

The reason for possibly becoming a charter county concern the ability to raise further taxes, address sea level rise and transportation.

Raschein said, “Mostly transportation. Raising taxes is not a fun thing to do. Hence, my thought about doing something different. What are other options? We just had to see an uptick in our budget anyways and that’s like a one two punch for our residents. It’s something we need to keep discussing.”

The possibility of consolidation judicial circuits with Miami-Dade and Monroe County is still a concern.

Raschein said, “I stand alongside our state attorney, Mr. Ward, our public defender, Robert Lockwood, our clerk administrator, Holly Elomino, all the judges, the attorneys that operate within our justice system down here in the Keys. We are so unique, we are different, we present challenges that other communities don’t looping us in with a giant behemoth like Miami Dade is just not a good idea. Geography, the amount of work that they have, the amount of work that we get done, the types of cases that are prosecuted are day and night, and our ability as a community to be able to elect judges, consider people campaigning up in Miami Dade versus just campaigning down here in the Keys. Campaigning in the Keys, it’s hard enough, much less having to go and fight up in the mainland. I understand, maybe, the impetus of this shrinking government, pooling resources. I don’t know that this fits that bill. I think that the wheels of justice would grind to a halt if this were to go through. I think that many times we see issues flare up like this, they boil over and then they sort of peter out. I’m hoping that’s what this will be like, we are having that rally up in Key Largo. It’s for four to six o’clock (this Sunday). We’re going to show a good strong force. We are the Keys. We’re united. This is a bad idea. I hope that it’s constructive. We don’t just need a lot of people up there yelling why are you doing this to us? We need to give the reasons. We need to give the arguments. We have very sound arguments as to why this is a bad public policy move. So I’m looking forward to fighting to keep that at bay. I think that we have definitely had our voices heard and we’ll continue. We’ll stay united on this.”