At the Chamber of Commerce’s monthly luncheon meeting at the Doubletree on Jan. 23, Mayor Teri Johnston apprised members of the “state of the city.” The mayor said she approaches 2019 with “abounding optimism” and reported “an excitement of change, growth, vision, and expectations” from the city commission.
Discussing the city’s financial stability, recovery from Irma (so far $3.5 million has been reimbursed), quality of life (soon a $7 million renovation of FireStation #3 will happen on Kennedy), and health and safety concerns, Johnston gave a positive and thorough report.
She recommitted to focusing on increasing water quality and decreasing downtown congestion (via the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan), and she broached the citizenry’s affordable housing concerns.
“Housing is an issue for most communities in the United States,” Johnston said, “but it is amplified in Key West many times over.” She discussed a $29 million project to create workforce housing on College Road in Stock Island and said “because we can’t do it all doesn’t mean we cannot do some.”
Johnston ended with her “deep commitment” to the local economy, quality of life and “retaining our inclusive, quirky, compassionate community values.”
The Mayor answered Chamber questions about the Duval Street Promenade Pilot program that will start in February over six weekends on the 500, 600 and 700 blocks. With those blocks closed to traffic, stores and restaurants will be allowed to use the sidewalks for business. “The feeling is to bring people back to Duval Street in a relaxed setting,” said Johnston. Also starting in February, crosswalk safety will implemented on North Roosevelt and the city will be getting started on phase 1B of Truman Waterfront, which includes a multi use full-size sports field.
Here are “by the numbers” highlights from Johnston’s address.
Key West City total 2018-19 budget is $185 million.
Code Compliance Department: In 2018, the department investigated just under 1,800 complaints and collected delinquent business tax receipts that brought the city more than $32,000.
Building Department: Processed 5,671 permit applications in 2018.
City Clerks Department: Conducted 29 Commission meetings, responded to 1,380 public records requests.
Human Resources: Responsible for developing and implementing policy, designing employee benefits programs for 494 active employees and 85 retirees. In 2018, minimum salary for city employees rose to $15 per hour.
Planning: 2,565 applications for planning, zoning, HARC and tree Commission policies.
HARC: 1,836 certificate of appropriateness applications with only 2 being denied and held 12 public meetings and 1 workshop in 2018.
Tree Commission: Processed 554 applications in 2018, authored 4 new ordinances, planted 15 trees in Bayview Park and accepted 55 donated trees.
Transportation: Operates an 18-hour day, 363 days a year. Last year 36 staff members operated more than 675,000 miles providing service for 620,000 riders. Duval Loop service carried more than 1,000 riders per day.
Roads/sidewalks: Repaved more than 1.5 miles of roads and re-poured 1.23 miles of sidewalks in Key West.
Utilities: Collected 4 million gallons of waste water per day while cleaning and maintaining sewers and pump stations. City’s recycling rate in 2018 was 12 percent. City collected more than 52,000 tons of solid waste, 6,000 tons of recycling and 4,000 tons of yard waste.
Over the past year, more than 200 pounds of cigarette butts were collected and recycled.