With the budget season upon us, it’s time to consider just how much money flows through Florida’s largest local government.
Miami-Dade County is on track to spend about $6.8 billion in the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, under the proposed budget from Mayor Carlos Gimenez.
With that much in its 2016 budget, the county would be spending about $19 million a day. That means it would take the county about 77 minutes to spend $1 million.
For this Dade Data report, we’re introducing our new Dade Budget Clock. It’s a new way to measure how much money is spent throughout county government, using time as a scale instead of dollars. The Dade Budget Clock lets you track how long it takes various departments to spend $1 million.
We’re using figures outlined in Gimenez’s proposed 2016 budget, which is subject to revisions by the administration and changes by county commissioners before it’s approved in September. Should commissioners and Gimenez agree on a lower property-tax rate, the budget itself would likely contract a bit.
The first clock counts off how many hours it takes each department or expenditure category to spend $1 million.
We’re covering the biggest sources of expenditures in this clock. That includes Police, the county’s largest single department. With a proposed $585 million budget, it would spend $1 million every 15 hours. Next year’s budget includes about $562 million in planned Water-and-Sewer projects, also enough to set a 15-hour pace for every $1 million.
Miami-Dade’s Transit department doesn’t have quite as much to spend, burning through $1 million every 16 hours by the time it spends the $532 million in its proposed operating budget.
Because the Gimenez budget presents it this way, we list department expenditures by their operating budgets. The capital budgets, used to build things and purchase equipment, are listed separately as “projects.”
Our second clock highlights spending categories with smaller budgets, so we’re timing them by the day instead of the hour. While it takes the Police department 15 hours to spend $1 million, it takes the Library Department six days (thanks to a proposed $59 million budget).
Our final clock times spending by the week. Here you’ll find some of the smallest budget items that get attention, and some that don’t.
Keep in mind, this isn’t a full accounting of the Gimenez budget. We’ve left out some categories in the interest of space.
A note on debt. Because Miami-Dade’s bond payments are spread throughout the budget, we only included a small portion of the county’s loan portfolio in our clock. You’ll find interest tied to bonds that are paid using the special property tax dedicated to voter-authorized borrowing.
The county is set to pay about $115 million in debt service on those bonds, which includes upgrades and expansion plans for the county-owned Jackson hospital system approved by voters in 2013 and a string of parks, infrastructure and other public-works projects endorsed in 2004. Interest payments are the largest expense for those “general obligation” bonds, and are set to cost about $86 million in 2016.
Add in all of the county’s debt payments for 2016, and the numbers get much higher. Including debt at Miami International Airport, PortMIami and other self-sustaining departments, the county is set to payback lenders $1 billion next year. The figure includes $721 million in interest and $360 million in principal payments.
That’s almost $3 million a day, or $1 million every eight hours.
Dade Data is an online feature exploring the numbers driving Miami-Dade County government.