Miamidade Budget Panel In No Rush To Fix Financial Woes
Written by Risa Polansky on June 11, 2009
By Risa Polansky
Miami-Dade commissioners learned last week they face an up-to $400 million budget gap next fiscal year — but those on the budget committee made no move to talk strategy at a Tuesday meeting, their first since getting the news.
For months, county officials held off on budget talk, saying they needed tax roll figures from the property appraiser to understand the hole they’d have to fill.
The appraiser released preliminary numbers last week, revealing a 9.2% countywide drop in taxable value.
That, combined with other falling revenues, translates to a looming $350 million to $400 million budget gap, County Manager George Burgess told commissioners via memo.
Armed with the outlook, commissioners at Tuesday’s Budget, Planning & Sustainability Committee meeting made reference to the recession and the tough task ahead but didn’t specifically address how to tackle it.
Committee Chair Katy Sorenson said in a later interview that the committee won’t begin weighing in until the administration drafts a budget.
"We’re going to have to see a proposed budget before we really start discussing in earnest," she said. Without a version — or versions — of a budget, "there’s not going to be a whole lot to discuss."
She noted that, already, "ideas have been floating around."
In interviews, commissioners have indicated what they’re willing to do to close the gap, including raising taxes, cutting services and laying off workers.
Ms. Sorenson said the "ends of the spectrum" are raising taxes to maintain current services or cutting spending to eliminate the entire gap.
But moving forward, "I think there’s going to be a lot to discuss in between."
She asked committee members to provide open dates to talk budget in August, when the commission normally recesses.