Miami-Dade has a big problem and it’s not a new one: a sewer system that pollutes Biscayne Bay. In 2013, the EPA found the county to be in violation of the Clean Water Act and under a consent decree, Miami Dade agreed to a settlement with the EPA to upgrade its sewage infrastructure by 2026 with a hefty price tag of $1.8 billion. The problem for the county is where to find the money to make the mandated changes because no one wants higher taxes, and the clock is ticking.
The 2020 budget has a three percent increase for Water and Sewer; however, Mayor Carlos Gimenez plans to reduce the amount previously approved for projects (new plants) by 45% over the next 15 years, as reported by the Miami Herald. Many contend that the money saved through these reductions should be allocated toward improvements and the consent decree obligations.
The weight of the settlement puts the squeeze on other priorities for the county if revenue remains the same. The most recent budget went into effect October 1 of this year and is $8.9 million and includes very little tax increases. However, those focused on meeting the expectations of the consent decree argue that keeping spending flat is risky, including Gimenez, who is concerned that the county will have to increase taxes at some point.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock