KEY LARGO -- The Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District is not proceeding with a special election just yet, the board decided at a meeting last week.
The board isn't happy with the governor's directive to hold a special election, which could cost the district $30,000 to $35,000, in order to fill the vacancy created when Susan Hammaker resigned in August.
To forestall ratepayers from having to foot the bill, the board is preparing to appeal the governor's decision to the state attorney general. Board attorney Ray Giglio advised against appealing, because it could take up to 90 days to get a ruling.
"After all, an election is the gold standard," he said.
On Oct. 2, on Giglio's advice, the board appointed David Asdourian to replace Hammaker with the idea he would finish out the two years left on her term. But the governor's office recently ruled that Asdourian could only serve through the Nov. 6 general election.
Newly elected board member Steve Gibbs said appealing the governor's directive could be resolved before a special election, which would be tentatively slated for late January or early February.
But Giglio said the district might have to tack on another eight weeks to schedule the election should the district lose the appeal, leaving the board's vacancy open until March or April.
As another alternative, Giglio asked the governor's office if it would consider making an appointment rather than the board. It declined to do so.
Deputy Supervisor of Elections Joyce Griffin, who was recently elected to her office's top position, told the Free Press that regardless of how many people are likely to vote in an eventual special election, the elections office would have to print enough ballots for a strong showing.
That means it could cost the district about $5,500 for each of the six precincts in Key Largo. Griffin said the cost would include some type of early voting.
Board member Andy Tobin had some worry that appealing the decision could cause friction in getting state funding through Gov. Rick Scott's executive budget.
"I don't know if I want to litigate with the governor's office," he said.
"I do. Let's do it," board member Norman Higgins interjected.
A spokeswoman for the governor's office told the Free Press that her office's ruling is legally sound.
"We must follow the law," Jackie Schutz said.
Schutz could not confirm whether Scott was aware of the matter and declined to comment specifically on the issue.
The board also planned to ask newly-elected state legislator Holly Raschein to speak to the governor about the issue.
In other business, Robby Majeska was reappointed chairman of the board, Tobin was named vice chairman and Higgins treasurer.