Tomorrow night’s Key West Commissioner meeting will look at a variety of issues

Following the Independence Day celebration in the Keys, it’s time to get back to work for the City Commissioners at a meeting tomorrow night at 5 p.m. in City Hall.

Sam Kaufman Key West City Commissioner joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to discuss issues facing the city.

Over the next month or two, the Key West City Commissioners will be gearing up to find a new City Manager.

Kaufman said, “Our search committee will reconvene. That will be a major focus over the next six months.”

The city is looking to have someone hired by next April or May so he or she can be involved in the next budget cycle.

An audit review will also be analyzed at tomorrow’s meeting. 

Energy bills are another issue that will also be discussed. Waste Management fees will increase for residents, but it looks like they will only go up about $5 a year.

Kaufman said, “I’m thankful that the increase is going to be so small.”

At the end of the last meeting, the City Commission also considered using some of the tourist tax revenue to fund work force housing, which is an ongoing issue and need.

Kaufman said, “When you have a $10 million or $12 million budget for advertising Key West, I think a lot of people realize that this is just not sustainable for the long term where we don’t have employees that can service our visitors and provide basic services that we need in the city.”

Could some of those advertising dollars be transitioned to work force housing?

Kaufman explained, “We really are going to need an influx of a lot of money for housing and the reason is because we’re going to be out of the development rights for new housing. We’re going to need to redevelop other existing housing and that costs a lot of money.”

Kaufman is hoping to get the support of the commissioners.

He said, “I think it’s a no-brainer for us in the Keys, not just Key West. The problem is not our local officials, it’s more the state legislature that controls how those dollars can be used by Florida statute. Convincing them I know is going to be difficult.”

Other communities throughout Florida have tried to do this before at the state level and were not successful.

Kaufman said, “This could be a long-term goal, but I think if we continue to voice a reasonable act to the state legislature, that eventually they’ll probably listen to us and other communities that have similar needs.”

Governor Ron DeSantis recently vetoed a bill that would have allowed businesses to sue municipalities and cities if they could have claimed economic harm.

Kaufman said, “I think communities throughout the state of Florida were probably lobbying the governor and common sense prevailed in this one because it made no sense that governments should be held hostage and not be able to create good law that protect public safety and laws that were aimed at protecting the public and public welfare could be subject to lawsuits. It just didn’t make any sense. It’s never been that way in the state of Florida. It shouldn’t be.”

In terms of Fantasy Fest, discussions are ongoing.

Kaufman said, “My perspective is that if it’s not broken, let’s not fix it sort of thing. The idea of making changes without having really core management provisions in place just doesn’t make sense to me. We need to use common sense and that means that we should retain the Fantasy Fest zone that was a topic the last commission and this time tomorrow night when we meet, we’ll be approving the Fantasy Fest zone, which has been in place for 40 years. I don’t really see the need to make that change without really some compelling, reasonable arguments. I haven’t heard them. Most of the policies are going to be the same and I’m okay with that.”

The commissioners will also be looking at the 99-year lease for the home purchases at the new housing development at Sherman Waterfront.

Kaufman said, “I’m not completely happy with the sale prices for the homes and so that’s going to be needing some more in-depth discussion.”

A discussion on possibly reducing the land-use regulations so homeowners will have a little easier time to make improvements on their land will be had as well.

Fees for beach weddings will also be discussed.

Kaufman said, “Beach weddings, I know it’s controversial among the vendors, folks who organize weddings, but I would ask folks to understand that every time there’s a beach wedding, it costs the city to do the cleanup and is it really fair to put that burden on the taxpayer when there could be a minimal fee that in the big picture may not make a big difference to the cost of a wedding. We’re talking about $150, $200 when there’s 25 people or 50 people, but that money could help defray the cost to the taxpayer for the cleanup, so that’s why I think a lot of the local officials are interested in that.”

On the non-transient rental ordinance for homeowners, there may be some confusion about that.

Kaufman said, “If you are a property owner and you currently rent your house or your housing unit to someone now, this will not impact you as long as you apply for the new regulatory permit and what the city is doing is regulating those landlords that intend and are renting their units between 30 days and six months. This will not affect you if you’re currently renting your property and have the license to do so. You simply have to obtain a new permit, which I think costs $20, something like that, it’s minimal. The idea is that on the island, so many properties are transitioning to this 30-day rental that it’s taking away properties that could be used for work force housing and we sort of have to do something before this just explodes more and becomes just unsustainable for our work force.”

For tomorrow night’s agenda, click here:|&Search=

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *