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MAYOR POSTING SEPT 18, 2020
We just completed the second meeting in two weeks concerning our new City Hall preliminary design and were presented with the architect’s “worst case” cost estimates. His estimates took into consideration all design alternatives recommended by the Commission, staff, and residents. Following a lengthy discussion, the Commission asked our architect to:
- Downsize the plans to include the post office as part of the main building, eliminating a separate building in Gazebo Park;
- Consider a 10% reduction in office spaces;
- Build a new “Marble Hall” to accommodate 200 people;
- Keep the critical offices spaces (police, building and admin departments) elevated on stilts for safety and resiliency;
- Use the most cost-effective building materials, interior products, and design;
- Remove many good, but expensive design elements.
There are several opinions on the final cost of the building, but we will not know the market rate until we complete the design and bid the project. Our Building Official is a very experienced local General Contractor and is closely monitoring construction costs.
To reiterate the facts:
- Most of the City Hall offices are condemned by 2 building officials and backed by engineers’ reports;
- Rebuilding at the current elevation is not legal under the current Florida Building Code;
- FEMA has recognized these facts and authorized a Specialized Project grant for about $3.2 to $3.5 million, based on the original square footage;
- Additional funding is being sought, and the Commission is very conscious of the construction and financing costs;
- The City has done much to save money since Irma where we ended in debt after cleanup, but now have over $2 million in reserves. We have always had the lowest or second lowest millage rate in Monroe County for as long as I can remember. Even during this pandemic, we have voted to hold the line on our millage even though other revenues may be much reduced;
- Recently we upgraded our sewer treatment plant with a $5 million addition and did not raise sewer rates.
This is by far the best Commission, staff and volunteers I have served with and they have been very good stewards of your money. They speak their own minds, do their homework and are looking out for you, our neighbors.
As long as I am your Mayor or Commissioner, I will work hard to set the best course for KCB and will vote to build the best and most cost-effective City Hall to serve us for the next 50 plus years.
MAYOR POSTING SEPTEMBER 1, 2020
To our winter residents that are deciding whether to return for another great winter season, PLEASE DO SO AND FEEL SAFE. The protective measures your Keys Leaders have enacted throughout this pandemic have been the best in the State and our public works staff has worked tirelessly cleaning. Today, we only have one person hospitalized in the Keys. Your Keys friends and neighbors are doing a great job wearing masks and social distancing. When I get out of my car, put on my mask and head into a store, I see everyone doing the same. If you are concerned about traveling, my experience is that hotels and restaurants are doing an excellent job keeping you safe.
So now, let us shift gears and talk about KCB.
Your Commission and staff, like you, have been working hard under less than ideal conditions and much personal stress. Even under these conditions, the City is doing well and hosted many vacation renters this summer.
I want to recap where we are with City Hall and update you on our next steps. Much of the building is uninhabitable, that is a fact. Second, to rebuild it at its current elevation is not legal under Florida Building Code and not in the best interest of this city. That is why FEMA has proposed a Specialized Project grant so we can build above the proposed new flood plain.
The process with FEMA and the Florida Department of Emergency Management (FDEM) is exacerbating and time consuming. All Keys governments are expending many man-hours to recover cleanup funds from Irma. Our staff must answer and re-answer countless questions for FDEM just get the second half of our Irma cleanup money. We are now doing the same thing with FEMA for the grant that they are awarding KCB for City Hall. For us, FEMA and FDEM, COVID-19 has made the process much more difficult.
It is looking like the total project with furnishings will be around $5.5 to $6 million. Approximately $3.2 to $3.5 million will be FEMA and the State’s shares. We are applying for other grants to help fund the project. The best news is that the cost of money is the lowest in years at 2.25%. Therefore, I do not see a hardship financing our share of the construction costs. At 2.25% one million can be borrowed for only $50,000 per year.
Additionally, there is a proposed option for alternative financing from a KCB resident. We have the time to consider his proposal while we work though FEMA and State grants. He is a developer with much experience in financing projects like ours and may be able to help us with financing below 2.25%. This would be in the form of a Public Private Partnership (P3). P3s, are covered under Florida Law and help Florida municipal governments fund projects.
The Commission is considering giving him a month or two to do a feasibility study at his cost to see if he can help. A P3 does not mean that the process is out of our hands. We are progressing with design and financing of the project. Our next workshop on the City Hall design will be September 10th and available on ZOOM. Please look for the e-mail blast from us and keep watching the city calendar for further meetings of interest.
What is Key Colony Beach? If you are a full time resident, seasonal resident or visitor, you know what a special place this is. Not only are you enjoying a tropical paradise, you are among a great group of people that have kept this little island city the “Gem of the Florida Keys” for more than 60 years. We do ask that our residents and visitors protect our beautiful reef environment, the safety of each other and our friendly tropical lifestyle. Our famous sign, “Honestly now, what’s your hurry?” is not just a reminder that you are off the highway, it is an invitation to enjoy our city, by slowing down on land and in our canals; to “share the road” with our many pedestrians, canal boaters, paddlers, swimmers and manatees. Thank you! – Mayor John DeNeale
“63rd Annual KCB Days”
March 8, 2020
“St. Patrick’s Day Parade”
March 17, 2020
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