Sunday , 21 December 2014
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Sports a distraction from county’s financial dilemma

Football wants the taxpayers of Miami- Dade to pay for a stadium upgrade. Basketball, making millions for the team’s owners, finally agrees to part with a “few” bucks after years of a free ride. Soccer wants a part of our port or part of our downtown waterfront park to build a stadium. Don’t even waste your time talking about the baseball fiasco. The whole county is focused on sport facilities while our county government is going down the financial hole.

Last weekend, my wife and I went to the movies to see The Other Women. What impressed me about the movie was a brief aerial shot of Central Park and the surrounding condos, office buildings and coops. The City of New York could more than likely improve their financial situation by selling off a small corner of Central Park and raise enough money to pay off its bonded debt. But would they? No, the parks are owned and enjoyed by the residents of the city. Green breaks are needed to reduce the tension of living in a city.

Recently The Miami Herald ran a section B, page 3, article headlined “County’s finances get worse as port faces debt crunch.” To quote directly from the Herald, it said, “Miami-Dade County’s finances continue to weaken as it faces looming budget gap, a credit downgrade for its port and mounting debt expenses.”

And yet, a few months ago when our elected mayor Carlos Gimenez suggested that we should make a fractional increase in our real estate taxes, the county went up in arms. Rather than pay a few more dollars a year in taxes, the voters, at least the vocal voters, would rather see our county services decline. The battle cry of the average, again vocal portion of our community, is “Give me more services; cut my taxes!”

Ed Marquez, deputy mayor for finance said, “If you take this report (2013 county financial report) and compare it to prior years, we are a weaker government. Our expenditures are exceeding revenues, and our [net worth is] going down.” There are only two ways to resolve this dilemma. Keep real estate tax millage where it is and reduce spending. Or, keep spending at its current level and increase our millage.

I would suggest that you review your tax bill. A county millage increase only affects the county’s portion of the bill. An increase doesn’t affect the bond issue retirement, the school board tax, municipal taxes, etc. I have been told that $45 on a typical home would resolve the problem. That’s $3.75 a month, the cost of a coffee at Starbucks.

We will pay the increase one way or the other. That is a fact. Moody’s downgraded the bond rating twice for PortMiami in the past 12 months. The county is ready to sell a bond issue to cover the port tunnel in the next few months. Moody’s downgrade means that the cost of borrowing will go up and that increase must be passed on to the taxpayers of the county.

So, it’s pay an increase in real estate taxes now or pay for years to come to cover the increased cost of borrowing created by our county’s weakened financial condition. You don’t have to be a financial wizard to see the difference. Pay now or accept downgraded services.

The mantra for the county should be “Pay now or pay later, but for sure you will pay!”

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