Burgess submits list of projects county wants in bond issue
By Susan Stabley
Miami-Dade County is moving down the road toward asking voters in November to consider a $2.75 million general obligation bond.
According to a report released this week from County Manager George Burgess the program will be considered to:
Acquire land for parks and green space, improve parks and recreation and re-sand-eroded beaches ($461.5 million). This includes buying undeveloped land and expanding Metrozoo.
Provide clean water, solid waste, sewer and drainage systems and bridges, tunnels, walkways and bikeways ($556.5 million). Among these items is $130 million for tunnel access to the seaport.
Expand and renovate museums and cultural facilities and restore/preserve historic sites ($404 million). A total of $285 million would be set aside for the area's science, art and historical museums to move to new buildings in Miami's Bicentennial Park. Another $10 million to $20 million would be dedicated to restoring historic properties.
Construct and renovate library, health-care, safety and other public facilities ($646 million). About $55 million would be set aside to expand the Miami Beach Convention Center and $125 million for Jackson Memorial Hospital, among other projects.
Provide expanded housing community development and neighborhood service centers ($532 million). This includes funding for affordable housing and home ownership promotion for low-income families and the elderly. A fund of $75 million would also be created to cover infrastructure in targeted areas to encourage new businesses and jobs.
"As you know, many areas of the county lack critical infrastructure. This serves as a deterrent to economic development and results in a loss of local employment opportunities," Mr. Burgess wrote. "This will send a strong message that Miami-Dade County wants business to locate and invest in our community."
More than 100 meetings were held through the county to gather input from citizens. The list of potential projects topped $7 billion, according to the county.
The proposed bond issue, dubbed Building Better Communities, would replace bonds from 30 years ago called the Decade of Progress program. The $553 million program approved in 1972 paid for the Metrorail and Metrozoo as well as a slew of other needs including cultural, recreational and healthcare facilities and improvements to streets, sewer lines and solid waste faculties.
County officials have said the new bond could be brought online as the old bond's debt retires with no increase to resident's taxes.
The bond money would be issued over 13 years. About $150 million of the bond funds would be used for issuance and financing costs.
An advisory committee would be created that would answer to county commissioners and the county manager, instead of an oversight board.
"Experience has shown that another layer of bureaucracy is not always productive and often serves to slow progress," Mr. Burgess wrote.
County commissioners are to hear the county manager discuss the bond program today (6/24). If commissioners approve, a vote on the bond issue would go to voters Nov. 2.