Florida Keys News
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Town to tie up loose ends this year

KEY LARGO -- Local leaders say 2013 will be a time for tying up some important loose ends.

The Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District, for example, will be focused on getting the remaining 30 percent of its residents connected to the central treatment plant and continuing its transition to a utility.

"It's going to be a pretty quiet year on the sewer front," chairman Robby Majeska predicted.

The district is beginning the new year down a person on its five-member board. Plans to fill the open seat are expected to be completed in January. At the last wastewater meeting, board members said the governor will probably appoint a replacement, most likely David Asdourian, who briefly filled the seat by appointment in October.

The sewer district is also counting on getting $20 million of a $50 million state grant to help pay down its $80 million sewer construction debt. That money is being lobbied for in Tallahassee, but Gov. Rick Scott has not yet included it in his budget. The district is asking newly elected state Rep. Holly Raschein, R-Key Largo, to help secure the money.

Meanwhile, the Key Largo Fire-EMS District will focus this year on keeping its finances solid, said board member Bob Thomas.

Challenges facing the district could be a state attorney investigation into whether there was any misconduct in a recent effort to disqualify a challenger hoping to unseat the current fire chief.

The district has called for an investigation into the Key Largo Volunteer Fire-Rescue Department, but so far no action has been taken by the lame duck administration.

State Attorney-elect Catherine Vogel will take over the office this month.

The fire district also plans to continue to lobby for a piece of the county's infrastructure sales tax money pie. The county secured millions of dollars through a one-cent sales tax extension during the November election.

Though quiet before the election, the local Fire-EMS board has recently taken a keen interest in trying to secure some of that money. As for new equipment, Thomas said finalizing the purchase of a ladder truck should occur early this year.

Monroe County Commissioner Sylvia Murphy said she doesn't expect Key Largo residents will see much difference in the new year.

Murphy and the county will continue to focus their attention on the Cudjoe Regional Wastewater System, the last hump before the Florida Keys is connected to advanced wastewater treatment systems.

Murphy said she will be tasked in 2013 with working out how to disperse those sales tax funds.

"We have to take care of Cudjoe first," she said.

For Key Largo, Murphy said she wants to see more community projects like the Fourth of July picnic and the Christmas tree lighting,

"These things bring our community together," she said. "We need them."

jgore@keynews.com

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