More clout on track for transit trust
Written by Lidia Dinkova on December 3, 2014
Miami-Dade is considering expanding oversight by an appointed trust that advises the county commission.
The Citizens’ Independent Transportation Trust (CITT) reviews transportation-related expenses funded by a voter-approved half-cent sales surtax. Originally, the tax was to pay for the capital cost of a slew of projects collectively called the People’s Transportation Plan (PTP). Over the years, surtax money was diverted to maintain the existing transit system and for transit department operating, or goods and services, contracts.
“Some commissioners raised concerns that we are using PTP money to pay for goods and services as opposed to expanding the transit system,” Commissioner Dennis Moss told Miami Today.
So this year, Mayor Carlos Gimenez said the county may no longer use surtaxes for operating expenses, such as goods and services contracts. Instead, he said, those proceeds are now to fund personnel costs for bus and train operations.
“This action appears to have the unintended consequence of eliminating trust review of MDT [Miami-Dade Transit] operating contracts, an essential trust responsibility,” said trust Chairman Paul Schwiep in a memo.
To remedy that, the county is now considering an expansion of the trust’s purview, allowing it to review all county transit contracts and not just those funded by the surtax.
The change essentially would restore CITT oversight over operating transit contracts by allowing the trust to review contracts funded by other means than the surtax.
“They may be paid through internal department funds,” said Mr. Moss, the ordinance’s sponsor.
The commission preliminarily approved the change Tuesday. A hearing on the ordinance is due in January; the full commission is to get final say after that.