Key West Politics: $550 Light Switch?

Key West Politics: $550 Light Switch?

“$550 for a light switch?! Where are you moving this to?!” boomed businessman and Vice Mayor Mark Rossi at this week’s city commission meeting.

The cost to which he was referring was included in a $90,900 total of change orders for the Solid Waste Transfer Station.

“This isn’t a common household switch,” affirmed city manager Jim Scholl. “It’s an essential piece of equipment for that facility.”

Contracted to conduct the pricey changes, Douglas N. Higgins, an underground utility contractor based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Waste Management’s Greg Sullivan stepped in to clarify our questions, raised by Vice Mayor Rossi.

“We’re in an industrial situation,” Sullivan explained. “So, all of the wiring has to be done in special, explosion-proof pipe in case there are gases in the air. They don’t want to ignite anything, and had they not followed building code, they could blow up an $8 million building.”

The lion’s share of the 90 grand Rossi was roaring about was $63,000 for a barrier – basically a bunch of blocks separating the recyclables and the garbage.

“Otherwise, you’d have a mess,” Sullivan offered. “In order to keep the recycling separate from the trash there had to be a divider.”

The garbage has to be taken to the mainland, even though there’s trash talk of why can’t there be a MRF, or Material Recovery Facility here.

The answer is simply our location, the cost, which would be around $30 m, doesn’t make sense. The same reason why auto makers didn’t build their assembly lines in the tropics.

Vice Mayor Rossi, also wanting to know why a flagpole was ticketed at top dollar, $4,700 to be exact.

“A flag pole for $4700,” Rossi demanded answers.

Scholl did offer some solace, “We do go over the initial contract to insure the change order does not exceed the bid amount.”

If you’re curious about the costs yourself, you can check out the city’s transfer station. The site is a public facility and you can go and see the $550 light switch, barrier, and heavy equipment, just as you would view the nurse sharks at the Key West Aquarium.

“You are more than welcome to go out there and see it, visit it,” urges Sullivan.

“They have big lights and big switches,” says Scholl. “I don’t know if this meant movin’ a whole switch panel. I’m sure it’s not a light switch, it’s a light switch. It’s big.”

“I’m not voting for it. I’m not going to support this,” affirmed Vice Mayor Rossi.

The other commissioners, Jimmy Weekley, Teri Johnston, Clayton Lopez, and Barry Gibson and Mayor Craig Cates voted in favor. Commissioner Billy Wardlow was absent.

$550 Light Switch?


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