The budget includes a couple of significant fee hikes, including an 8 percent increase to water rates previously approved by commissioners. Additional increases are projected for the next four years.
Public-transit fares will go up to $2.25 from $2, following a previously approved commission measure linking ticket prices to the consumer price index.
Some areas will grow, including animal services and the police department, which is slated to hire four new classes of officers. An additional 27 sworn police officers could be hired if Miami-Dade is awarded a federal grant.
Around 12:40 a.m., the commission voted 11-1 for the budget, with Chairwoman Rebeca Sosa, Vice Chairwoman Lynda Bell and Commissioners Bruno Barreiro, Esteban “Steve” Bovo, Jose “Pepe” Diaz, Audrey Edmonson, Sally Heyman, Barbara Jordan, Jean Monestime, Javier Souto and Xavier Suarez voting in favor.
Moss was absent from the vote, though he voted in favor of the tax rate and most other budget items that must be approved separately.
Commissioner Juan C. Zapata voted against. He said he found some line items unfair to residents who live in unincorporated neighborhoods outside of cities, and he criticized Gimenez for what Zapata called a lack of vision.
“The budget is the biggest policy statement we make,” Zapata said. “I look at this budget, and I’m hard-pressed to find the policy.”
Edmonson and Monestime opposed the elimination of the five-member countywide office of healthcare planning on the first day of the fiscal year, the same day as the new federal healthcare law takes effect. Gimenez said the cut was a “last resort” to fill in the budget gap, but the county will continue looking for ways to assist the public in navigating the new law.
“As mayor of Miami-Dade County, I occupy a non-partisan seat,” said Gimenez, a Republican, obliquely referring to criticism from the county’s Democratic Party about the elimination of the office.
For her part, Sosa touted commissioners’ move to allow residents to donate additional money to their favorite county services — in the unlikely event that they choose to contribute on top of their property taxes.