MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The mayor of Miami believes it will take nearly $1 billion to fight sea level rise. So where would the money go? CBS4’s Vanessa Borge took a deeper look.
“We know in the future we’ll need it, but even in the present,” said Chris Rose, Mayor Tomas Regalado’s budget director. “There’s still flooding there’s always pounding after storms or even the king tides.”
The current proposal for $192 million money is going toward upgraded flooding pumps, sea walls and better drainage – similar to what other south Florida cities have done. It could total $900 million when all is said and done.
“There are existing pump stations that need to be upgraded,” Rose said.
For now, the city is taking on the $192 million in a general obligation bond – which is debt the voters already approved and pay for with property tax, but taxes will not be raised.
“It’s not a tax increase going forward, we would keep that tax rate flat,” Rose said.
Mayor Regalado only has months left before he’s out of office. Getting this on the ballot for November could be his last big move as mayor.
“Do you think the mayor wants this because he’s about to leave and wants to make sure this is done before he’s gone?” Borge asked Rose.
“I can’t speak for the mayor, but we know we have this need today,” Rose replied.
But one city of Miami commissioner thinks more time is needed to determine where the money should go and how much.
“We need to know the capacity we have in our drainage systems. It’s impossible to spend money if you don’t know how much capacity you need,” said Commissioner Francis Suarez. “We need to make sure that if we spend this money and we need to be very careful with the people’s money.”
Suarez is also the only mayoral candidate this November. If he becomes mayor, Suarez said he’ll make the push for similar plans.
Right now he thinks it’s the time for more research not votes.
“It’s worrisome to put a question to the voters of that magnitude where they have to approve 300 million 190 million which is to sea level rise mitigation without having a plan in place,” he said.
Next Thursday, Commissioner Suarez and his colleagues will vote on the proposal. If it passes, then voters will head to the polls on November 7th to approve it.