Oprah isn't the only person in the world who has ideas about how to make money. Here's one of my ideas that was ongoing when Tom Willi canned me. A few of my ideas have been brought to fruition by people that worked for me - most haven't, and here's one of the biggest savers.
The reason that some politically-minded folks don't want you to know is that opening this treasure trove might annoy some of the most wealthy in influential part time residents of Monroe County - the folks at Ocean Reef. But I think I have a way to do this without upsetting ANY residents.
Somewhere around 800,000 vehicles a year cross the Card Sound bridge annually. Most of them pay a dollar, so the County gets $700,000+, cash money every year from the Card Sound Bridge.
The trouble is that it costs almost a half million dollars a year to pay the toll collectors and maintain the buildings there.
When I was Director of Technical Services for Monroe County, one of the least popular things I wanted to do was to fully automate the bridge tolls. I found that, for about what it costs for a year to pay all the people that collect tolls 7 days a week, 365 days a year, the County could replace the toll plaza with an automated toll collection system with camera enforcement that would then cost 10% as much to operate.
That's right. No people. Pay your money - cash, credit card, SunPass (or a KeysPass) - or get a ticket in the mail.
So that will eliminate several Public Works jobs. It will also put tight controls around the cash at Card Sound. The current controls there would give any auditor heartburn. I suspect that Danny Kohlage hasn't checked in on state of the art in cash management at toll booths lately.
I spoke with Emelio Suarez, who is the director of technology for Florida's Turnpike, who said that the Turnpike Authority might be willing to install collect tolls and maintain the toll plaza, like they do for a number of County owned bridges in the state, for a cut of the revenue.
This was ongoing when Tom Willi made the decision to part ways. I hope Emelio's not waiting to hear from me.
So, how would the County collect an extra $1,000,000+++?
- Raise the tolls to $5.
- Automate the toll plaza, tear down the current structures and give the lots to ROGO for the hotels the County wants to build.
- Pay the Turnpike Authority to install and manage SunPass.
- Offer mail-in rebates for over $50 per calendar year for COUNTY RESIDENTS (not transients) with a Monroe County address and proof of payment to SunPass.
That's just my million dollars worth. Will one of the Commissioners put this on an agenda?
Is there anyone at Monroe County that could execute this project? THAT, my friends, is the issue. GIVE IT TO THE TURNPIKE AUTHORITY!