Vote “Against” the Water Referendum

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On January 17, 2019, the Village Council voted 4-1 to call for a referendum by mail, asking the voters to approve a $15 million bond for the construction of water lines to connect 740 homes currently without access to county water.  Once these water lines are built they will be turned over to Miami-Dade County for the county to derive all the revenue.  Pinecrest gets nothing but debt for 20 years.  From my perspective, it is not fiscally responsible to do this to incur the largest bond debt ever in Pinecrest’s history  and then give the infrastructure we build to Miami-Dade County.   Pinecrest will not own the water lines nor will it get the revenue stream from the users to finance the bond.  It is simply not appropriate to saddle the entire village with a debt that will only benefit 740 parcels and where Miami-Dade county will receive the revenues.

Councilmember McDonald

While I fully appreciate the desirability for all of our homes to be connected to county water lines, the inescapable fact is Pinecrest was not incorporated to provide potable water to its residents!  Only Miami-Dade County provides water and it is has refused to pay for expansion of the water lines, even though it has done so in other areas of the county.  It claims its rules and regulations don’t allow it.  If this were an emergency, which it is not, the county, state or federal government would step in to fund the construction.

As many of you know, our village government has for years made it one of its top priorities to find funding to continue to build out the water lines.  Both state and federal monies have been obtained in the past.  While Pinecrest, as a municipality, advocates on behalf of our residents to locate sources of funding, to go beyond that role and present a referendum to the voters asking the entire village to tax themselves for the next 20 years to provide water lines to only 742 homes and then to turn those water lines over to the county which in turn will derive all the revenue, is wrong.  Taxes paid by our residents should go to things that are owned by the village and which benefit everyone, not just a few.

As you can see from the attached chart, the homes in red do not have county water.  Those parcels in yellow are not connected but have water lines available.  The “yellow” parcels have had a 10 year grace period during which they were not required to hook up.  However, this month the county will be notifying these  homes it is now time to connect to the county system at their own expense, in addition to being required to pay more taxes for the 742 homes’ benefit.  The parcels in “green” already have county water.

Another factor that highlights the inherent unfairness of taxing the entire village to pay for county water lines is the fact that a number of Pinecrest homeowners have already connected to the county water lines at considerable expense, not just the expense of hooking up to a water line adjacent to their property, but the considerable expense of constructing a lengthy water line across numerous parcels to connect to the nearest existing water line.  For those that incurred this significant expense they are now being asked to pay additional taxes to install water lines for others who have not chosen to incur similar expenses.  There is no tax credit for those who spent the money.  Those unfortunate taxpayers will be paying yet again for others’ water lines.

In my six plus years on the village council, the council has worked diligently to try to find funding sources to complete the system.  Given anticipated sea-level rise in the coming years, it is important the water issue be resolved – but not on the backs of Pinecrest taxpayers, but rather, by Miami-Dade County which is in the business of supplying water to residents of the county.  It is simply unacceptable the county refuses to do so.  In this regard, I have asked that an item be place on the agenda for February’s village council meeting that the village explore legal redress to require the county to provide water to the remaining Pinecrest homes without water and require the county to also install sewers in Pinecrest at the same time. 

So, when you receive your ballot in the mail, vote “Against”.  At the same time, let your county commissioner, Xavier Suarez, know you demand Miami-Dade County to do its job and build out the water system in Pinecrest.

James E. McDonald

Councilmember


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5 COMMENTS

  1. I totally agree with Commissioner McDonald. Pinecrest does not provide water to our residents. Miami-Dade County does. Let’s vote against the Water Referendum and get after the County to provide water as they have done for many other of our residents over the years. Residents who now have County water should vote against this or they will be paying increased taxes for 20 years. Not a good idea.

  2. McDonald is spot on! You would be wise to take his advice. Our County Commissioner Suarez will undoubtedly be running for County Mayor and now is the time to express your concerns to him.
    I lived in Pinecrest decades ago before it became a municipality and home for billionaires. It was a lovely, wholesome place for families, with lots of natural pine rockland.
    At least 2/3 of the County is on septic tanks and many on well water which is not always safe to drink. It was safe in a bygone era. Pinecrest is not unique in this respect. This is a Countywide problem and the County needs to deal with it. Salt water intrusion will continue to encroach into well fields, and individual municipalities shouldn’t have to tackle these problems without County support. In spite of these major unsolved problems the County continues to promote and facilitate unlimited high density and population growth. How can the County keep pace with the need for water for developments like Downtown Dadeland? County government has to be held accountable! You who have the money to live in Pinecrest are protected in your own municipality from the obscene overcrowding which is taking place all around you.

  3. A “YES” vote would require everyone in Pinecrest to pay an average of $3,160 ($158 for 20 years) so that 740 other homes can be hooked up to the county’s water system. Nearly 90% of all homes in Pinecrest have already paid to hook up to that system. It is not an inexpensive proposition, but everyone else has already paid and it would be unfair to force all those who have already paid to also finance the hook up for the small minority who have not. Even if the County will not finance this water project, an acceptable alternative would be to divide that $15 million dollar cost among the 740 homes and charge each of them $20,270 to pay for the cost of doing so. If I lived in one of those 740 homes, I would be glad to pay that amount for an improvement that would immediately be reflected in the increased value of my home. We are not talking about homes near US 1 in what some people call “the slums of Pinecrest”. We are talking about homes worth well over $1,000,000. If the owners haven’t the cash lying around, any bank would gladly lend them the money and it would only cost about $130 per month payable over 30 years with all interest paid deductible! Don’t be fooled! This is another proposed giveaway taxing everyone in Pinecrest (including those in the least affluent households) to benefit some of the wealthiest.

  4. I am one of the 740 and I currently pay $380 a year for the General Obligation Bond that the county had in 2004, that brought $4,357,000 to Pinecrest to put in lines for 564 homes, we all pay for that GOB, check you tax bill. Money for infrastructure doesn’t come out of the air, nor does money for parks, schools, canals, drainage and flooding projects, etc. I pay for all of those, even when the ‘wealthy’ could afford to pay for these themselves, its part of the fabric of community. NOBODY wants to pay taxes, but we do it everyday. If the county comes in and builds the project, as they did in the past, that debt service line on your tax bill is going to be alot higher than the cost that you’ll be paying through the referendum. Why should I pay for schools when I don’t have kids in them, or why should we let kids outside of Pinecrest use our parks or go to Pinecrest Gardens, its ridiculous to say only them, or just those, what am I being asked to pay for that you use but I don’t benefit from? I don’t care about the answer, I live here and I want Pinecrest to thrive and I don’t want the county to overcharge us for a project we know Pinecrest will do better and for a better cost. The money makes sense, and Pinecrest should stop pointing fingers and be one family, I’ve been doing my part.

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