Miami-Dade may take $129 million hit as property tax revenue projected to fall 12%
By Risa Polansky
Still working through budget fallout from an unprecedented 9.5% drop in taxable value, Miami-Dade is projecting a further 12% hit to the already-depleted tax roll next year — potentially looking at $129 million less in property tax revenue than this year.
Revenues plummeted almost across the board leading into this fiscal year, from sales tax collections to building fees, leaving commissioners a $444 million hole to fill.
Nearly two months into the budget year, they're still working on it.
As for bracing for next year, Property Appraiser Pedro Garcia says he can't provide tax roll estimates before the summer.
But the county's five-year plan predicts a 12% drop in the roll.
New construction kept this year's from crashing 12.9%.
But the county is anticipating virtually no new construction to tax next year, budget chief Jennifer Glazer-Moon said.
The estimated 12% hit translates to about $129 million less in property taxes based on about $222 billion in countywide taxable value the appraiser listed in his certified July roll, presuming commissioners keep the same countywide tax rate.
It doesn't consider revenue drops for the library or fire districts. And it would come atop any losses in other revenue sources.
To balance the budget, commissioners can raise taxes, cut services, lay off staff or a combination.
In combating the crisis this year, they voted to keep a flat tax rate, opting to cut the reported $444 million from within.
But about $200 million of that is to come through compensation cuts the county hasn't been able to make without settling union contracts, still ongoing.
Miami-Dade was losing $8 million every two weeks paying staff last year's salary and benefit levels.
Now, after Mayor Carlos Alvarez imposed 5% pay cuts on his non-union employees, the meter is running at about $7 million per two weeks, Ms. Glazer-Moon said.
But there's been some progress with unions, County Manager George Burgess said Tuesday.
One ratified commissioners' wage cuts Monday, and another is to vote next month.
Others are working through the impasse process.
Meanwhile, staff is concocting a Plan B to balance this year's budget in light of growing holes — and the possibility some wage cuts never go through.
"We have something laid out that is essentially the actions that the mayor would consider and ultimately take, in the event we need to, to properly size the organization, the workforce, the services we provide," Mr. Burgess said.
The plan now is to watch progress "over the next several weeks," he said, declining to share specifics.
Ms. Glazer-Moon also wouldn't go into detail but said focus is on service cuts.
"We don't have reserves that can just make up the difference, and we're not talking about one-time solutions," she said. "For a gap of that magnitude, you have to be looking at service reductions."
Plan B practices would carry forward in hopes of lessening next year's expected pain.