In 2002, Miami-Dade County voters approved a half-cent sales surtax to be used to expand and improve mass transit. However, as a result of the 2008 financial crisis, the Citizen’s Independent Transportation Trust (CITT) voted to allow the surtax revenues to be used to support operations and maintenance expenditures of the entire Miami-Dade Transit system.
Two years ago, I attempted to restore full funding back to the People’s Transportation Plan (PTP) for expanding and improving mass transit. At the time, the Miami Herald editorialized in favor of that restoration. Now the need to fund new transportation is even more critical and, fortuitously, the resources are available and ample.
The proposal is to use one-half of the fiscal year 2017-18 estimated incremental real-estate taxes (equivalent to $50 million) to begin funding the SMART Plan.
The administration wants to begin using PTP funds in three to four years. However, I believe that the surtax revenues must be returned to the CITT now.
The county has more than enough funds to return half of the new property tax revenues to the PTP, maximizing CITT’s bondable capacity. There is plenty of fat in the county bureaucracy. We have 4,283 managers; 7,240 county automobiles; and 18 administrative buildings!
Local officials who support this initiative include: mayors Tomas Regalado (Miami), Peggy Bell (Cutler Bay), Smith Joseph (North Miami), Phillip Stoddard (South Miami), Enid Weisman (Aventura), George Vallejo (North Miami Beach), and Cindy Lerner (formerly of Pinecrest); state representatives Nick Duran, Roberto Asencio, and Kionne McGhee; and Sen. Anitere Flores; and commissioners Vince Lago (Coral Gables) and Francis Suarez (Miami).
As Rep. McGhee has said: “It is time to give us the rail!”
Xavier Suarez, Miami-Dade County commissioner,