Activists at a Board of County Commissioners budget hearing in County Hall.
The Miami-Dade County budget won’t officially be decided for a few months but the process is already very much underway. The proposed $8.9 billion budget was released last week and the decisions and debates over what gets funded will likely start soon.
So with all that on the horizon, we wanted to give a quick primer on the budget, the meetings where the public can give feedback, and a timeline on the process.
WHAT MAKES UP THE COUNTY BUDGET?
It’s all the revenue and expenditures that the county has plotted out for the next fiscal year. All the county departments submit funding requests to the county’s Office of Management and Budget and then the plan is finalized.
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The revenue is all the money the county expects to make and comes from things like property taxes, transit revenue, water and sewer bills and grants. The expenditures are all the services the county expects to fund with that revenue. The two amounts should be the same at the end of the process to ensure a balanced budget for the year.
HOW DO THEY DIVIDE THINGS UP?
The budget is broken down into seven sections: Public safety, economic development, health and human services, neighborhood and infrastructure, transportation, recreation and culture, and general government. You can find more details here on how those departments are funded and how things get spread out to the mayor’s office, the county districts, and the county attorney’s office. Or just read a quick summary here.
But if you really want to dig in, there’s three volumes worth of budget info: here, here, and here.
WHAT ARE SOME PRIORITIES THIS YEAR? The proposed budget focuses on some of the bigger ticket items like increased staffing in the police and fire departments, dedicating about $120 million to infrastructure improvements, and about $263 million set aside for affordable housing initiatives.
The county has also budgeted to increase county library hours and tutorial programs, to give away 5,000 trees to residents — with a goal of planting 1,000 new trees on public land, and additional funding to support more residential curbside recycling.
You can read more of Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s plans in his budget message here.
WHAT WILL THE COMMISSION APPROVE? They’ll be voting in September on the budget plan and what will get funded and spent. They’ll also set the property tax rate for the county.
If you live in a specific municipality, like Doral or North Miami for example, your commission or council will do the same.
WHEN IS THE BUDGET FINALIZED? The 2019-2020 fiscal year starts on Oct. 1 so the county budget has to be finalized by Sept. 30.
HOW CAN I GET INVOLVED? There are two formal public hearings at County Hall on Sept. 5 and Sept. 19. Both meetings start at 5:01 p.m. Commissioners in each district will also usually host meetings to receive feedback, and Mayor Gimenez’s office will also host meetings across the county before the budget is finalized.
Check here for updates on those meetings and to reach out to your commissioners for info. If you live in the city of Miami, your hearings are on Sept. 12 and Sept. 26, with both meetings starting at 5:05 p.m. For Miami Beach residents your hearings are on Sept. 11 and Sept. 25, starting at 5:01 p.m.
We’ll do our best to follow the big discussions on what gets funded over the next few months so let us know if you have specific questions about the process! Hit reply or email us at [email protected].