Archive for the 'Property Tax Reform' Category

Pawning our roads for cash

Pawning our roads out to the highest bidder, increased gambling statewide, and cuts to police and fire services are just some of the adverse effects of our legislative efforts to reduce the state of Florida’s expenses. Is this really the price we’d like to pay in exchange for some barely noticeable tax decreases? The cuts are already taking its toll on cash strapped bedroom communities (incorporated neighborhoods who lack all the economical qualities of a sustainable city, typically lacking the commercial, agricultural, and industrial taxing districts which keep real municipalities afloat) and will continue to wreak havoc, if not totally bankrupt other municipalities in the coming years (which may not be such a bad thing, given the agglomeration identity crisis also underway.) Point of the matter is, this tax cut will hurt Floridians more than it helps us, instead shifting tax burdens onto sales tax receipts, increased tolls (which the state would only collect a portion of, if we lease them out to businesses,) and gambling.

Any company with the capital to lease a Florida toll road would be stupid to not jump at the opportunity, and we, the Floridians, would be even stupider if we relinquished control of such a powerful asset. See, like most of the US, Florida lacks a venerable option to the toll road given that our rail “network” is close to inexistent (an 11 hour ride on Amtrak to Jacksonville, doesn’t cut it.) The few billion we’ll reap now certainly won’t be used to institute and widespread changes and the company who buys them will be virtually guaranteed business.

Now, we’d like to reiterate that here at Transit Miami we aren’t in favor or against tax cuts; we’re behind more intelligent use of the economic resources we have now, before deciding what can be done to alter the budget (which clearly has not occurred.) We’re all for eliminating government waste in a well thought out manner that will help reduce our expenses while still providing our residents with the police, fire, and educational, and transit services they deserve…

It’s Time to Cut the Bureaucratic Fat Miami

I’m glad Representative Julio Robaina stepped up today and finally declared that through consolidation of city services, Miami-Dade taxpayers could save $50 Million Dollars. Although Robaina was speaking of only consolidating one branch of various municipal governments, it’s a step in the right direction- the direction that would consolidate all local municipalities under one effective roof. We have to stop undermining the power established by the Miami-Dade Home Rule Charter in 1957 and need to start using it to become a more efficient municipal entity. What do I mean? No more Surfside, Pinecrest, Miami Gardens, El Portal, Key Biscayne, etc. Sure the neighborhoods will still exist, but the municipal authority will be absent, consolidating their governing authority in the hands of an expanded and qualified (better paid too, obviously) county government. The majority of these municipalities are going to feel the crunch of the property tax reform anyway, bringing many of them to the brink of bankruptcy, seeing that the greater part of them are just bedroom communities without any real commerce or industry sectors. Heck, Imagine what it would look like if every census designated place became its own municipality…

It’s an idealistic situation, I’ll admit, but the fact that there isn’t a comprehensive governing body with the authority to draft area-wide planning/zoning, transit, development, greenways, etc. is pretty archaic.

Example 1:
MDT and county planning has had a plan to maximize density along the US-1 corridor (as they should) to maximize the overall system benefit of metrorail and the busway, allow for less westward growth, etc. However, each city along the corridor has final say on the TOD along their particular portion of the corridor. MDT and TOD developers have to therefore seek planning/density/zoning approval from whichever city their project resides as well as the county. It’s redundant! To make matters worse, every city has its own agenda: Pinecrest for example, has reduced density along their portion of the corridor (in a futile attempt to “prevent” further traffic.) Newsflash kids, the growth south and westward will cause far worse traffic through Pinecrest than any expanded development along US-1.

Example 2:
After the passage of the PTP in 2002, one of the first rail projects to come under consideration was the Miami-Miami Beach connection: Baylink. Despite the overall benefit (tourism, local access, etc.) the transit system would have provided to a greater proportion of the local population, Miami Beach politicians derailed the project, pushing back its earliest date for county consideration to 2015! MDT and the county could have pushed ahead without Miami Beach approval, but the elected governing body of the time lacked the political will to force the Beach agenda aside.

Neighborhoods have incorporated into proper municipalities to escape the corruption, abuse, or neglect that evolved in Miami’s County politics over time (Yes, I am aware that 25 of the 34 Municipalities were formed prior to the 1957 Charter.) Instead of adjusting the system to provide better public oversight, neighborhoods have been uniting and adding yet other layers to the local bureaucracy. Nowadays we’re looking to cut taxes, not services, why not cut the fat?