Citizens Transportation Trust asks: Where's the budget?
By Lou Ortiz
Miami-Dade County's Citizens' Independent Transportation Trust wants to operate like most folks and governments do — on a budget.
Trouble is, it has not been able to get its hands on one.
"We've been told for the last six months that it's coming," said trust Chairman Miles E. Moss, whose panel oversees transportation and transit projects tied to a half-cent surtax that Miami-Dade County voters approved in 2002.
"The problem is income," he said. "There isn't enough income."
The trust is charged with overseeing the People's Transportation Plan to increase transportation services for residents, which was part of the 2002 vote. The trust assures compliance with the ordinance on how the levy funds are spent.
At least 31 municipalities share in the surtax funds, with 20% of the proceeds going to the governments on a pro-rata basis for local transportation and transit projects. The Transit Agency is also annually dependent on the surtax, snaring $158.4 million this year.
Mr. Moss said the Trust wants what he called a "pro forma" from the county, which would outline surtax revenue projections and projects tied to the transportation plan over the next 30 years.
For example, he said, it would list how much money will be needed for the transit projects the county wants to do, how much it will take to maintain the present system into the future, and how much of the surtax has to be tucked away for the North Corridor Metrorail expansion.
"The [trust] has always wanted to see this budget," he said, "to show projections of costs of everything in transit and public works [road improvements] relating to the surtax."
Mr. Moss asked Assistant County Attorney Ysela Lort at last week's trust meeting, which was cancelled due to lack of a quorum.
Ms. Llort said the county staff was working on the pro forma and it wouldn't be ready until June or July.
Afterward, Mr. Moss questioned whether the Transit Agency would set aside money to maintain 198 new Metrorail cars that are to be bought with surtax funds. The agency failed to maintain the current fleet.
"What's going to happen 15 years from now?" he asked. "Will the PTP (People's Transportation Plan) have to pay for rehab?"