Commissioners defer transit fixes until they have more info
By Risa Polansky
Pleading for detailed plans and scenarios on how to get financially ailing Miami-Dade Transit back on track, county commissioners Tuesday delayed action on proposals to fill operational funding gaps and restore federal confidence in the county's ability to build and maintain new projects.
They also swiftly killed a proposal to levy a new half-cent sales tax atop the voter-approved half-penny already collected.
Among items deferred: a proposal to raise Metrorail and Metrobus fares 50 cents.
Transit Director Harpal Kapoor highlighted the transit department's needs — namely, bridging a $20 million operations gap.
But commissioners were disappointed to find the administration couldn't provide a pro-forma on how current and future projects could be funded and maintained.
"If we try to handle this today, we don't have the facts before us," Commissioner José "Pepe" Diaz said. "There's nothing here for the future."
Federal transit officials, questioning whether the county could afford to both keep up services and build and maintain a new project, withdrew funding from a planned extension of the Metrorail system.
They're also requesting the pro-forma plan county administrators were unable to provide this week.
County Manager George M. Burgess assured commissioners that staffers are working on it around the clock.
It could be ready by a special meeting in late July or August, he said.
To the dismay of some, Mr. Kapoor noted a fare hike would go toward operations, not expansions.
Chairman Bruno A. Barreiro insisted the county must deliver residents what they promised in proposing the current half-penny tax — expanded services.
If that can't happen, he said, "I'm not going to stand by here and continue to collect that half penny."