Miami-Dade County

To raise $5 billion, Miami-Dade finds local dollars from many sources

Miami-Dade County spends nearly $5 billion a year on its operating budget. That’s largely thanks to local wallets and pocketbooks.

Last week, the county’s finance department unveiled its latest forecasts for how much operating revenue Miami-Dade can expect for the budget year that begins Oct. 1. And while the estimates are still preliminary, the grand total is projected to come in over $4.8 billion — more than $100 million above the current $4.7 billion budget.

Where does the money come from? The revenue worksheets include 83 different sources of money, from countywide property taxes ($916 million) to cruise-ship docking fees ($58 million) to money people pay to use the county’s golf courses ($6.9 million).

Here at Dade Data, we sorted all of the numbers from the current $4.7 billion operating budget into 11 categories we think are easier to digest.

The upshot: about 50 percent of the revenue comes from property taxes and fees that the county imposes mostly on households and consumers.

[Can’t see the chart on your mobile device? Click here.]

The taxes include all property taxes — including those charged only on land outside of municipal boundaries and special fire and library taxes. The fees include a range of revenue sources tied mainly to locals, including trash pick-up, sewer and water fees, auto-tag payments and the 5.7 percent tax added onto cable and phone bills (cellular, too). Many of the fees fall more heavily on the unincorporated areas of Miami-Dade, which rely on county government for police, fire and other services.

About 15 percent of this year’s $4.7 billion comes from sales taxes: the 1 percent levy that subsidizes the county’s hospital and transit systems, the seven-cents-a-gallon local gas tax, and the two-percent tax added onto most restaurant bills to fund programs to prevent homelessness and domestic violence.

We grouped together fees tied to the housing industry (plat registration, zoning fees, filing taxes) and license fees paid by businesses. Our recreational category includes revenue from county marinas, golf courses and fees tied to pet registration.

You can compare our labeling of this year’s revenue categories with the pie chart published in the county’s budget report last year by clicking here and turning to Page 15.

Luckily for Miami-Dade, a large chunk of public dollars also come from outside sources.

The county’s two transportation hubs — Miami International and PortMiami — combine to be the third largest source of revenue, though they spend all of their nearly $840 million on their own budgets. Washington and Tallahassee were expected to send about $300 million to Miami-Dade this year in state and federal grants.

Tourist spending certainly accounts for a significant chunk of sales tax revenue. But taxes charged solely on hotels barely register on the chart: 2 percent, or $106 million a year.

We grouped miscellaneous revenue (ambulance fees, surplus budget funds, inter-agency transfers) into a catch-all “government” category that accounted for another $310 million.

In the chart below, we plot each category’s share of the total $4.7 billion. We shaded the categories into one of three broad headings: revenue generated largely by residents (red), revenue generated by residents and visitors (yellow), and revenue that comes mostly from sources other than residents (green).

The breakdown: 54 percent in red, 20 percent in yellow and 26 percent in green.

[Can’t see the chart on your mobile device? Click here.]

This post is part of Dade Data, a new online series from the Miami Herald’s County Hall team. Dade Data explores the numbers driving Miami-Dade County’s government and the challenges it faces.