New projects to double Miami's tax rolls, officials say
By Yeleny Suarez
Miami's construction boom will double the tax rolls of one of the nation's poorest cities by 2006, officials predict.
The $22.5 billion in taxable property on city rolls today would pass $40 billion if more than $17 billion in projects in the pipeline are completed. Rising taxes on existing property would add to that total.
"If everything gets built, our tax budget would double," Mayor Manny Diaz said.
And the city is forecasting that virtually everything will be completed.
Now, 233 major projects are in process, said Larry Spring, city budget and strategic planning chief, and everything that gets that far typically will be built eventually.
"From 2003 to 2004, we grew $3 billion in taxable value," Mr. Spring said. "Seventy-five percent was due to existing property and 25% on remaining new construction. As more and more new development is completed, the percentage of new construction will rise."
"The total tax roll today is $22.5 billion," he said. "I am currently putting together the budget forecast that will be completed in May. We expect a double-digit increase, another 10% minimum ($2 billion). But this is just a preliminary number. Expectations are that it will be larger."
The city's large-scale development report lists major projects awaiting approval. The number has increased by 24 since October, said Luciana Lamardo-Gonzalez, special projects coordinator for the city's planning department.
Listed are 233 mixed-used projects that would include 66,648 residential units at a projected construction cost of more than $17 billion, Ms. Lamardo-Gonzalez said. Of those, 32 have been finished at $2 billion; 33, for $3.7 billion, are rising now.
Another 64, at a cost of $7.9 billion, have been approved; 25, for $2.7 billion, are in the application phase; and 79, at $724 million, are in preliminary steps, she said.
"Looking at it as a seamless project, it would take about two years before hitting tax rolls," Mr. Spring said. "Next year, we estimate a double-digit gain in tax-base increase at a minimum, 15% over this year. This year was about 17%. Condos are moving strong - we estimate a 12% increase for 2006."
"At this point, there is no evidence of city projects slowing down," Mayor Diaz said. "I've met with developer Africa Israel, who has several plans for the city, and Royal Palm, none of which is yet in the city plan, so we are still growing."
Africa Israel Investments Ltd., an international holding and investment company, plans projects in Park West and the Omni area, the mayor said. The Performing Arts Center Trust is considering a deal with the firm to develop parking.
Much property in Miami is tax-exempt. The preliminary value assessment of sites exempt from taxes last year was a little more than $10.2 billion, or 31.2% of the $32.6 billion in total city property.
Real and personal taxes brought the city $178 million last year, up $22 million from 2003. Next year, Mr. Spring said, he anticipates another rise of more than $20 million. An estimate of growth in 2006 is due in May.
The jump in taxes is not a net gain. Costs rise with growth. "As the city becomes denser," Mr. Spring said, "additional expenses on police and firefighters are necessary."