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The other side of the story

Below is a letter received by our offices from the other canidate, Jim Rhyne, in the upcoming runoff election – as I always say it is best to be informed when making any decision – whether it be buying/selling a home or casting a vote.

Our community deserves better.

Just prior to the March 11 elections there was a flurry of last minute emails circulated around the village by various sources”warning” voters of impending doom should they choose to consider one candidate over another. As the victim of a few of those publications, I would like to take this opportunity to “speak” for myself rather than have other less informed sources interpret for you what they believe to be my positions or affiliations. Since it is the issue that divides my opponent and me the most, and since the scare tactics last time revolved around the issue, I will address first the wastewater issue.

I am not looking to institute a huge tax or assessment on our residents and businesses to pay for a sewer system. I am also not going to stick my head in the sand and ignore state law and our responsibility to our environment. I know we are in a difficult situation that is not of our own making. I also understand too well the potential to adversely affect our village by continuing down the current “wait and see” path or placing too heavy a burden on our citizens. In between the two extremes lies an area that will allow us to move toward compliance and clean water, and not break the bank.

Both Key Largo and Marathon have recently instituted heavily researched and thoroughly vetted financing plans that I believe principally would be appropriate for Islamorada. Since both those communities have different costs to build and different starting points as to prior grant funding allocations, (we spent all of our allotted grants on the Upper Plantation Key area, while Key Largo and Marathon have spread theirs out over their entire service areas) we could expect slightly different assessments than what they have projected. Key Largo’s wastewater board is looking at a settled cost to its residents of $90- $95/month for residents with businesses paying a slightly lower cost per EDU. Marathon is projecting a settled cost of $110- $115/ resident and a similar slightly discounted plan for their businesses. Both these charges include capital cost recovery as well as operation and maintenance fees. These numbers are not out of line with the current charges NPK homeowners are paying. Hold that thought a moment.

The impetus for all of this is, of course, clean water and a healthy environment. It’s interesting to note that some of our village is now paying the same fees we are so afraid of. What’s the difference? A few years ago there was a bit of grant money bestowed on us. We used our freebies to make it palatable (over 50% grant funded) for one area to have a system installed. Now with no grant funding coming down the pipe, the vast majority of our village will be left to fend off the wolves. Why? Because our leaders have not recognized that their policy toward wastewater funding has to change. Those that sermonize that we should “wait and see” or “hold the states feet to the fire” are ignoring fiscal reality, state law and continued environmental degradation.

There has also been a lot made out of the fact that I have a business in Marathon. A good business decision is not one that considers emotion as one of its factors. My choice to acquire and run my business in Marathon was and continues to be driven by availability and simple cost/benefit analysis. I would even argue that it gives me a more Keys-wide view of the issues affecting us and our neighboring communities and exposes me to solutions others have found to be successful. Plus, I can be more objective regarding the business issues here in Islamorada without having a bias or personal business interests to further. Residency is, unlike business, an emotional choice. Where we live, love and laugh with our family and friends is a choice we make and don’t take lightly. I have chosen this village to live in and raise my young family just as all of you have. My decision to seek a council seat is one that I made based on a keen desire to make a positive difference in all of our lives.

Obviously there may still be rumors and misrepresentations circulated about me (or my opponent) over these final days of the campaign. I encourage you to question those that come from sources other than the candidate themselves and, if in doubt at all, to contact the candidate. My contact phone and email is listed on my website at www.jimrhyne.com.

With your help, we can turn an unproductive past into a bright future.

Now you have both side’s viewpoint – remember get out and vote on April 8th and in all the upcoming elections this year –