FYI Miami: December 26, 2019
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BRIGHTLINE BONDS ON TRACK: A federal appeals court Friday rejected Indian River County’s arguments in a legal battle about tax-exempt bonds for the Brightline rail system. A three-judge panel of the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld a 2017 decision by the US Department of Transportation to authorize $1.15 billion in what are known as private activity bonds for the passenger-rail system, which is ultimately planned to link Miami and Orlando. The Department of Transportation approved what is known as an “allocation” of the private activity bonds, which were then issued by the Florida Development Finance Corp. While $1.15 billion in bonds was authorized in 2017, Friday’s ruling said an additional $950 million worth of bonds was authorized as the challenge moved forward.
MINIMUM WAGE RISING: Minimum-wage workers in Florida will receive a small pay increase with the start of the new year. The state’s minimum wage will increase from $8.46 to $8.56 an hour Jan. 1, with a minimum wage of at least $5.54 an hour for tipped employees, according to the state Department of Economic Opportunity. Florida voters in 2004 approved a constitutional amendment that increases the state minimum wage each year based on inflation. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Florida voters in November 2020 will cast ballots on a proposal that would gradually raise the state minimum wage to $15 an hour. That proposal, which will appear on the ballot as Amendment 2, would increase the minimum wage to $10 an hour on Sept. 30, 2021, and subsequently increase it by $1 an hour each year until it hits $15 on Sept. 30, 2026.
ELECTRIC SAVINGS: Miami area consumers paid an average of 19.5% less for a kilowatt hour of electricity than consumers nationwide, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics has found. The price here in November was an average of 10.7 cents per kilowatt hour, the bureau found, less than the 11.8 cents this area paid in November 2018 and far below the nationwide average of 13.3 cents.
VETO OF INVESTIGATION: Mayor Francis Suarez has vetoed a resolution from the Miami City Commission to direct an independent auditor general to investigate claims brought forth by Commissioner Joe Carollo at the Dec. 12 meeting against City Manager Emilio Gonzalez. Mr. Carollo claimed the city manager expedited the permit process for a deck in his own house. At the meeting, the commission voted to remove the city manager, with Mr. Carollo as well as Manolo Reyes and Alex Diaz de la Portilla voting in favor of the removal – one vote short of the four needed for removal.