Letters to the Editor

Gimenez: Transit proposals ‘unrealistic’

Re the Herald’s July 2 editorial, County should pay up: While the editorial and Miami-Dade Commissioner Xavier Suarez’s proposal don’t “ruffle feathers,” they certainly require clarification.

The Citizens’ Independent Transportation Trust’s $81 million is an annual subsidy paid to Miami-Dade Transit since 2008. The subsidy amount has fluctuated from year to year. My administration’s budget forecasts have the subsidy gradually being reduced in a responsible manner to under $20 million by 2020.

The path we have chosen to reduce the subsidy allows Miami-Dade County the flexibility to maintain critical services such as public safety and yes, transit. Accelerating payments as proposed in the editorial would result in a drastic reduction in these and other services. While weaning Miami-Dade Transit — the largest transit agency in Florida — off of the People's Transportation Plan’s annual subsidy is very important, doing so too quickly is not a good option. I will not support it.

Other issues mentioned in the editorial also require clarification:

▪ If the $20 million from the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX) were even available for reallocation to Miami-Dade Transit projects, which I doubt it is, I believe those dollars should be returned to the toll payers so they can keep more money in their pockets.

▪ The idea that the state would be willing and capable of returning millions in licensing and auto tag fees to the county each year is unreasonable.

Even if it did and could, that would trigger the 66 other counties requesting the same funding and would probably result in the delaying of state-supported transit projects. Again, not a good or realistic option.

▪ The editorial makes reference to a “bare-bones, no-frills budget” nearly a week before I actually present my budget proposal to the community, and about two weeks before it will formally be discussed by County Commission. That’s disappointing. The Herald should wait to actually review my Proposed Budget prior to making such assumptions.

As Miami-Dade County mayor, I know it is important to be frank with our residents. While there will be other well-intentioned proposals to help alleviate our transit issues, the aforementioned ones will not move us in the right direction.

However, my administration has been actively working to produce responsible and realistic ways to generate funds to improve mass transit in the county.

We will continue our efforts throughout the summer to present new opportunities for game-changing transit projects that will improve connectivity throughout Miami-Dade and offer our residents and visitors additional mobility options prior to the first budget hearing in September.

This administration will continue to work in a thoughtful, deliberate manner so that we do not repeat past mistakes of over promising and under delivering.

Carlos Gimenez,

mayor, Miami-Dade County,