Commissioners Approve Special Taxing Zones That Could Generate Billions For Rail

Miami-Dade commissioners voted yesterday to approve a new scheme that could finance rail expansion in the county.

The proposal had been in the works for a few years, and envisions extra taxes generated by Transit Oriented Development placed in a trust to be used for new rail.

Under the plan, Tax Increment Financing zones would be created around station along the proposed SMART lines. Municipalities could upzone these areas. Additional revenues generated by increased development in these zones would be set aside for transit.

Several other financing schemes for transit are also in the works.

Last week, commissioner Jean Monestine said he was drafting legislation for a referendum on another increase in sales tax to 8%, saying that millennials are “screaming and crying for this.” The group is too young to remember feeling betrayed by the last half penny increase, which produced almost no new rail, he said.

A bill is also working through the Florida legislature that would allocate $60 million annually for alternative transportation in Miami and Tampa. Those funds are currently sent to Sunrail in Orlando, but the obligation expires in 2021.

Rail service on the Northeast Corridor will begin in 2021, according to the legislation approved yesterday. The anticipated start date for other lines (some of which may use BRT or other technology):

  • Northeast Corridor – 2021
  • North Corridor – 2023
  • South Corridor – 2023
  • Kendall Corridor – 2025
  • East/West Corridor – 2027
  • Beach Corridor – 2028