November 29, 2017
For the second time in a year, the working-class residents of Stock Island and business owners there are facing another significant sewer rate increase.
In February, the Florida Public Service Commission granted the private utility KW Resort’s request for a rate increase. Residents had been paying  $17.81 per month and $3.87 per 1,000 gallons of water used, but the commission increased the monthly charge to $31.80 and the consumption charge to $5.27 per 1,000 gallons of water used.
KW Resort Utilities submitted another rate increase proposal to the PSC last week requesting the monthly base charge be increased to $50.74 and the consumption charge be increased to $8.41 per 1,000 gallons.
The rate case will take months and will include a public hearing in either Stock Island or Key West in the coming months. On Feb. 9, the PSC will vote on approving an interim rate increase that will take the monthly base charge to  $33.79.
The major expenses pushing the rate increase are $1 million to rehabilitate the wastewater treatment plant and $1 million for a chlorine contact chamber. KW Resort Utilities is also asking to raise rates to cover equipment destroyed in Hurricane Irma, including its offices, and a new generator that costs roughly $300,000, according to its proposal before the PSC.
The private utility does have insurance but it does not cover the total costs of damage from the storm, KW Resort Utility attorney Bart Smith said.
Pray tell, Tim O'Hara and Key West Citizen, why come you did not tell your faithful, trusting readers what you know: that Bart Smith's parents own the sewer plant and they use its graywater to irrigate and fertilize the Key West golf course on Stock Island, which they operate and rent from the City of Key West, and that County Commissioner Sylvia Murphy said at a county commission meeting about a year ago: if Bart Smith is for something before the County Commission, then it has to be bad for the County and she's against it.
Bart "Vulture" Smith
Erik Sayler, an attorney with the Office of Public Counsel representing the residents, questioned why the utility did not have an insurance policy that covered all of the hurricane damage.
Sayler was surprised by how large the rate increase request was, he said. He has begun to review the proposal to “make sure all of the calculations are done correctly,” he said. 
Assistant Monroe County Attorney Cynthia Hall plans to also review the rate proposal and will represent the local government, as it is one of KW Resort Utilities biggest customers. The county owns and operates the Sheriff’s Office headquarters and jail and a fire house on Stock Island.
The county is also concerned about the impact on local residents, Hall said.
Stock Island is home to some of the most vulnerable people, the workers of the Lower Keys, who can least afford a sewer rate increase, Hall said. The rate increase also comes after those same residents dealt with Hurricane Irma, Hall said.
Hall plans to compare KW Resort Utilities rates and geographic coverage area with other sewer service providers to make sure the proposed rates are accurate, she said.
Amen. Furthermore, this is a private vulture capitalists family-owned utility company serving Stock Island. It is not the Stock Island residents', nor the county government's, problem that Bart Smith and his parents were underinsured. It is THEIR problem. Raise green fees at the golf course and/or reach into your own pockets, Smith Family Vulture Capitalists. 
tohara@keysnews.com