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.
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