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Your weekly slice of island life.


Hello Key Biscayne!

Have you gotten the covid scare yet? Seems like every other day someone is calling around talking about how they were in contact with someone who had it. No fret, the Rag’s got the answer to keep you on the streets, coughing with your mask off: if you never get tested, then did you ever really have it? 😎

Keep away from the vulnerable and let’s go.

News cycle on low heat

Have your cake About a week ago the Village pulled a sneaky move: they banned all non-residents from entering the island if not inside a motor vehicle. That didn’t sit well with the swarms of cyclists who show up every day. Some of them found a lawyer who threatened to sue, and the Village quickly backed down and lifted the ban.

The Village, not wanting to look weak and defeated on their bullshit ban, said that they totally could legally do this, they just don’t want to anymore. 🚴‍♀️

(Islander News)

Eight commandments Miami-Dade Public Schools, in a video meeting, have laid out eight criteria that need to be met relating to Covid stats in the county to send kids back into schools by August 24th.

The criteria are too long to list here, but let’s just say that if school were starting today, your kids would be sitting pretty at home. 😎

(Miami Herald)

Book ‘em As the numbers continue to rise on the island someone prominent around here was bound to get the covivi, and that person is our own chief of police, Chief Press.

In a video posted yesterday the chief looks to be in good health and as he explains his situation. We wish him a speedy recovery. 😷


What a hundred million gets you

Updated 2020-10-07

You may have heard something about the Village wanting to borrow a hundred million dollars. But what’s it all about, and why are some people so against it?

Let’s start with what’s up. For a good while now the Village has had some big infrastructure projects on the table, most of them dealing with resiliency: flood mitigation, drainage, making sure the beach doesn’t erode, seaweed stuff, underground power, and more. The estimates on these projects add up to about—you guessed it—a hundred million dollars.

The Village doesn’t have a hundred million dollars, and if they did, they probably wouldn’t want to spend it up front. Instead, what 5 of the 7 councilmembers are interested in doing is putting out a general obligation bond (GOB) for the amount, which is essentially borrowing that money.

There’s two catches with this GOB, though. The first thing is that anytime you issue a GOB, the voters need to approve it. The second is that the Key has a GOB cap, which is 1% of taxable property values, and in 2020 that debt cap is about 80-something million dollars. Not only that, the Key is already in some debt, so the usable limit right now is about 70 million dollars.

That means the 5 of 7 council members are going to put two questions for you on the November ballot. One asks if you are down to borrow a hundred million dollars, and the other asks if you are cool with them exceeding the cap up to one hundred million dollars.

Update: only the borrowing question made it to the ballot. The debt cap will remain unchanged.

Does voting yes mean we instantly borrow one hundred million?
No, it means the Village can borrow the money. After that, the Village would vote as they do on a project by project basis whether to actually borrow or not. The money is borrowed as it is needed, in tranches.

Why is there a debt cap? Is that commonplace?
The current debt cap was put in place when the community center was built. At the time, a whole mess of people thought it was a horrible idea and it would bankrupt Key Biscayne, so to assure them the 1% cap was put in place. Some cities have them, most do not.

If both referendums fail, can they issue a GOB that falls under the debt cap?
No, they would have to have another referendum to issue any GOB.

How much do we have to pay back every year?
According to the Village CFO, it’s about five million per year if we were to borrow all of it right now at the current interest rates and with the Village’s current credit rating.

Will my taxes go up?
Well, unless the Village cuts five million dollars from the yearly budget, then yes. If they were to issue the bond for the full amount tomorrow, you would pay about $600 for every million dollars in property value. The bond payments are expected to last 30 years.

What are the projects, when will they happen, and what will they cost?
The Village has outlined three general projects: Complete streets ~$40m, shoreline protection ~$23m, and utility undergrounding ~$35m. The Village’s timeline estimates projects will get rolling in 2023, which seems a bit optimistic.

How sure can we be that the project estimates are correct? Are Key Biscayne projects usually over budget?
That’s a good question and you’ll have to dig into past Key Biscayne infrastructure projects to try and make a good guess.

Why did the two council members oppose putting this to referendum?
You can watch the meeting, but in general it was because the projects are not clearly defined and budgeted yet and there’s a reluctance to raise the debt cap.

What’s the rush? Why not wait until the projects are budgeted?
The proponents, in general, think it’s necessary to deal with these projects now. They think that asking the electorate to vote one time for a lot of money is easier than asking them to vote a bunch of times in multiple elections, and they’re worried that the cost to borrow the money will go up a meaningful amount if we wait.

Will the cost to borrow actually go up if we wait?
Proponents have been circulating this well written and convincing memo that they will indeed go up. The Rag, a free newsletter with zero overhead, is somehow in arrears and so is not in a position to verify any financial claims.

Do opponents have some cool memo I can read?
Sadly, not yet. There is this petition that’s been going around written in a mix of bold text and all-caps that makes opponents seem like they’re all operating on one shared brain cell, but rest assured there are smart people who oppose this, and hopefully they will have a memo out soon.

Are other cities spending on resiliency like this?
The short answer is yes, the long answer is you’ll have to do the research yourself to find out if what they’re spending is comparable.

Is there some other way to finance these projects?
They could raise the money first through taxes or fees. Coral Gables is doing just that, raising stormwater fees over the course of twenty years to reach $100 million by 2040.

Why would someone like me vote yes to these referendums?
Maybe you think the infrastructure spending will raise property values.
Maybe you think these resiliency issues need to be dealt with sooner than later.
Maybe you think it’ll cost more down the line.

Why would someone like me vote no to these referendums?
Maybe you think the added tax burden will depress property values.
Maybe you don’t think resiliency is as urgent as they say.
Maybe you’re not satisfied with the financing process.

Jesus, can’t you just tell me how to vote?
The Rag would like nothing more than a Key Biscayne with about half the current population and where a house costs $600k. Whatever you think will get us there, vote for that.



Last Week's Sales

Location SQFT Rooms Prev Price
442 Glenridge 3342 5/4.5 '16 $2.68m $2.315m

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