Miami Studying Adjustments To Residential Commercial Fees
Written by Yudislaidy Fernandez on January 22, 2009
By Yudislaidy Fernandez
Miami’s search for cash to balance its budget next year could lead it to increase many of the fees that city residents and businesses pay.
The city says it’s doing an analysis to ensure it’s charging enough to cover the cost of producing and collecting the fees. But one commissioner warned that the city could lose up to a third of its property tax revenue and will need to prepare to offset the losses.
The city is reviewing all fees, including those for building permits, occupational licenses, assembly permits and fire safety permits, said Chief Financial Officer Larry Spring in an interview.
But commissioners Tomás Regalado and Angel Gonzalez at last week’s commission meeting voiced concern with hiking fees when many businesses are hurting.
"I know that the city needs money," Mr. Regalado said, "but this is the worst time ever to go after the business community."
The study should take 60 days. The next step is for commissioners to vote on updated fees for next fiscal year, said Mr. Spring, who expects some to rise.
Commissioner Marc Sarnoff said with ad valorem tax collections expected to decrease 25% to 35% this year, government must plan ahead.
City Manager Pete Hernandez agrees. "We have to find strategies and revenues sources to balance our budgets," he said.
Commissioners cut $48 million this fiscal year.
Some commissioners last week suggested freezing the pay of non-union employees. After arguing about the timing, they agreed to bring back the issue next month to allow the city time to analyze savings.
Commissioner Joe Sanchez warned that the city is facing strains on all fronts and must take steps now to live within its means. "The perfect storm is out there," he said. "Government has to do more with less."