FYI Miami: December 26, 2013
JUDGE SHORTAGE: Pointing to issues such as pending caseloads and long waits for hearing times, the Florida Supreme Court said last week that the state needs 49 additional judges, including 11 county court judges in Miami-Dade County and six county court judges in Broward County. The request is part of an annual process in which the court “certifies” a need for judges to the Legislature. “Many of our chief judges lament the long waits associated with obtaining hearing times,’’ the Supreme Court wrote. “In some circuits, dockets are so full that it takes several weeks to schedule a hearing. This is especially true for scheduling lengthy hearings.” The certification seeks 39 county-court judges, seven circuit judges and three appeals-court judges.
NATURAL GAS COSTS HIGHER: Miami area consumers of piped natural gas paid 53.1% more than the nation as a whole in November, a charge averaging $1.529 per therm versus 99.9 cents nationally. The Miami area cost rose from $1.452 per therm last year, when this area was paying 46.1% more than the national average, according to an analysis by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
LOWER CHARGE FOR A CHARGE: Miami’s electricity costs continue to fall under the national average, as households paid 11.5% less than the national average in November at 11.5 cents per kilowatt hour, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. In November 2012 Miami’s electricity costs were 10.2% below the national average, the bureau said, and for the past four Novembers the cost in Miami has been at minimum 8% below the US average.
BRIDGING THE GAPS: Kiewit Infrastructure South Co. has won a contract award of nearly $5.6 million to provide a facelift to the 28-year-old Miami Avenue Bridge over the Miami River downtown. County commissioners awarded the contract last week with the expectation that the repairs would keep the bridge functional for 30 more years. A memo to commissioners from the county administration noted that bridge deck corrosion “is sufficient to warrant analysis to ascertain the impact on ultimate strength and/or serviceability” of the twin bridges. Two other waves of bidding on the bridge repair starting in 2011 had failed to find good bidders in the county’s price range. This time the range was adjusted upward “in order to reflect current industry prices,” the memo stated.