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Front Page » Top Stories » Miamidade Revenues Expected To Be Down Across The Board

Miamidade Revenues Expected To Be Down Across The Board

Written by on April 16, 2009

By Risa Polansky
Miami-Dade County revenues are to be down almost across the board in the upcoming fiscal year, projections show.

The extent of the hit to next year’s budget is unclear as officials await property valuations from the county appraiser — but revenue estimates for other streams such as sales and gas taxes look grim.

"There are virtually no revenues that are increasing," said Jennifer Glazer-Moon, director of the county’s Office of Strategic Business Management.

She points to the sluggish economy as the culprit.

"It’s because of the economy, because people are spending less money, there aren’t as many developments going through… just about every revenue is going down," she said.

Without property tax roll projections, she couldn’t estimate the budget gap the county must fill before Oct. 1, when next fiscal year begins.

But she’s said it will be at least as much as this year: about $200 million.

Bed taxes, essentially tourist tax collections, have declined steeply this fiscal year and are expected to keep falling next year.

County revenue estimating documents show convention development taxes coming in at about $43.9 million this year — down from $47 million in fiscal 2008 — and dropping to $41.7 million next year.

Tourist development taxes are projected to fall from $17.7 million last year to $15 million by the close of this fiscal year and to $14.3 million in fiscal 2010.

Sales tax revenues are expected to drop from about $118.8 million this fiscal year to nearly $114.6 million in the next.

The county’s gas tax proceeds are also to take a hit in the upcoming fiscal year.

From the local option gas tax, which generated $47.2 million in fiscal 2008, the county expects to glean only about $42.4 million this fiscal year, and next year only $40.6 million.

Revenues from the half-percent sales surtax that funds transit system maintenance and new transit projects are expected to drop from $186.5 million last fiscal year to $177 million this year and to $170 million in fiscal 2010.

Carryover — unspent funds at the end of a fiscal year — is projected to fall from $109.7 million in fiscal 2008 to $86.1 million this year and $15 million next year.

Some revenues are expected to increase in fiscal 2010, including those generated by FPL franchise fees, aviation fees and charges, seaport cruise and cargo charges and transit fares.

Projections are budgeted at 95% of anticipated revenue, as per state rules.

Though officials are working with recent projections when it comes to non ad valorem revenues, there’s no way to predict the size of next year’s budget gap until it’s clear what to expect from revenues tied to property taxes.

When it comes to the tax roll, "I assume it’s going to go down," Ms. Glazer-Moon said.

Though now, "I don’t know," she said, until May or June when Property Appraiser Pedro Garcia is expected to release property values.

Municipalities are also in standby mode.

Michael Boudreaux, director of strategic planning, budgeting and performance for the City of Miami, said he awaits property assessments and state revenue projections — expected in June — to get a clearer picture of how the city’s budget will be impacted.

"Those are the numbers that drive what’s going to happen next year."

Both the county and city operate emergency contingency reserves.

Since 2003 the county has steadily added to its reserves, growing the contingency fund from $11 million six years ago to about $70.2 million last fiscal year and a projected $74.2 million for this year, according to the approved fiscal 2009 budget.

To avoid dipping into that pool this year, county administrators asked departments to cut their expenditures by at least 3%.

Heading into next year, it’s too early to make a call on whether the county may need to tap into the reserves, Ms. Glazer-Moon said, but "my plan would be to re-appropriate the reserves at the same level."

Staff writer Yudislaidy Fernandez contributed to this report.