Miami-Dade budget season is coming soon. Here’s what you need to know

The 2018-19 Miami-Dade County $7.8 billion budget proposal dropped this week, laying out how much the county is planning to spend on everything from parks to police officers. Soon, the discussions and debates will begin on how that should be adjusted before it becomes official on Oct. 1.

We’ll be back in a couple weeks with a detailed breakdown of what’s in there, but until then, here are some of the basics that anyone who wants to know how their tax dollars are spent should know.

WHAT MAKES UP THE COUNTY BUDGET? It’s all the revenue and spending  that the county has plotted out for the next fiscal year, which runs from Oct. 1, 2018 through Sept. 30, 2019. All the county departments submit funding requests to the county’s Office of Management and Budget, which combines all that into a final proposal.

The revenue is all the money the county expects to make and comes from things like property taxes, transit revenue, water and sewer bills, federal and state grants, special funds, sales taxes and other sources.  from the state and federal government.

County spending shouldn’t exceed that, or the budget will be imbalanced.

HOW DO THEY DIVIDE THINGS UP? The county breaks spending  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 on how each is funded here. And if you really want to wonk out,  here’s three volumes worth of budget info: here, here, and here.

WHAT ARE SOME PRIORITIES THIS YEAR? Mayor Carlos Gimenez has identified public safety at schools as a major focus – not surprising, after the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas. About $20 million has been set aside to place a police officer at more than 100 schools across the county.

His proposal also includes funding new response teams and additional training for officers.

ARE MY TAXES GOING UP? So far the county hasn’t proposed increasing the property tax rate but the overall tax rate will increase slightly–you can read more about that in the Miami Herald.

WHAT WILL THE COMMISSION APPROVE? They’ll be voting in September on the budget plan. They will also set the property tax rate for the county (if you live in a specific municipality, like South Miami or Miami Gardens, your commission or council will do the same).

WHEN IS THE BUDGET FINALIZED? The 2018-2019 fiscal year starts on Oct. 1, so the budget has to be finalized by Sept. 30.

HOW CAN I GET INVOLVED? There are two formal public hearings at County Hall on Sept. 6 and Sept. 20. Both meetings start at 5:01 p.m. because state law requires the meetings to start after 5 p.m. to encourage public participation. Commissioners in every district will typically host meetings to receive resident feedback and Mayor Gimenez’s office also hosts meetings across the county before the budget is finalized. Check here for updates on those meetings and to reach out to your commissioners. We’ll be adding those to the newsletter calendar as we hear about them. Know of one we should list? Send it our way.

We’ll be following the big discussions on what gets funded and digging into the budget over the next few months so let us know if you have specific questions about the process. Email us at [email protected].