Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava released an $11.7 billion dollar County budget Saturday that she said “doubles down” on affordable and workforce housing. The spending plan would increase property taxes an average of 11.7%, but the actual tax hike would vary greatly from property to property.
“It is critical that our residents can afford to live and work here,” the mayor said in her budget message.
“We’re tackling the housing crisis by launching innovative new programs, including adding an additional 18,000 units of affordable and workforce housing in development to our previous goal of 14,000,” she said.
Levine Cava is also proposing a bigger investment in transportation, with emphasis on implementing the SMART transportation corridor plan. About 30% of the $4.4 billion proposed in the capital budget is devoted to transportation. The overall capital budget is up 20% from a year ago.
The operating side of the budget is $7.3 billion. It would add 755 new County jobs, with large increases in the Water and Sewer, economic regulation, and Public Safety departments.
The budget gets its first test Tuesday, when the Board of County Commissioners will set an initial tax rate, known as the “millage.” The rate is usually adjusted downward as lawmakers make changes during the budget process, culminating in hearings in September.
Although the operating “millage rate” is decreasing a miniscule 1%, the whopping 12.7% surge in taxable property values means higher property taxes. Owners of homesteaded properties have their home values capped at 3%, so it means the bulk of the increase will fall on landlords and commercial property owners.
District 7 Commissioner Raquel Regalado, who represents Key Biscayne, said she is still studying the spending plan. “It’s early in the process but what I would like to see is a substantial investment in infrastructure and a meaningful reduction in millage,” she said Saturday evening.
Key Biscayne residents only pay a portion of County taxes because the Village operates its own Fire-Rescue department, which is one reason the overall property rate on the island is the lowest in the County, officials said. A precise breakout for Key Biscayne owners was not immediately available.
Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow awards. He was president of the News Media Guild, a journalism union, for 10 years. Born in Chicago, he is a graduate of Columbia University. His interests are photography and technology, sailing, cooking, and science fiction.