The term white elephant refers to an extravagant, impractical gift that cannot be easily disposed of. The phrase is said to come from the historic practice of the King of Siam (now Thailand) giving rare albino elephants to courtiers who had displeased him, so that they might be ruined by the animals' upkeep costs.
Sounds a lot like Key West's grand offer for the county to take over the 106-room Poinciana Gardens Senior Assisted Living Facility. If it is such a great bargain, why don't they want to keep it?
Let's hope our commissioners look after our best interests and not Key West's. Poinciana Gardens ALF was advocated for, built by and occupied by the residents in the City of Key West and when it became obvious that it was bleeding money and unsustainable, the city decided the county taxpayers should take it over. How is this in the county taxpayer's best interest?
Commissioner David Rice recommended creating a taxing district for the Lower Keys property owners to help pay for this "gift." This is sounding more and more like that white elephant.
No other county in the state owns and operates an Assisted Living Facility except Miami-Dade County and they operate a 101-room public housing ALF for very low-income residents. Miami-Dade has a population of 2.7 million people. Why did Key West imagine they needed a government-owned, 106-bed facility for a population of 24,000 or so?
This major capital project was never in the county's budget nor in their capital project's plan. How did Key West manage to preempt the county's plans with theirs?
Just before the county commissioners discussed this budget buster, they agonized over the lack of employees available to fill vacancies for businesses as well as government jobs. How would owning an ALF, with strict staffing requirements for a 106-bed facility, relieve that worry? How will the county fill that need when they have cut or postponed needed positions in other departments? And, of course, we the taxpayers will have to pay for those ALF positions, along with the balloon mortgage and building upkeep forever, while other planned for projects get set aside.