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Lawsuit: County Squandered $1.5 Billion Of Transit Tax Promised For Metrorail Growth

Miami Herald Archive
Passengers board the new Metrorail trains at the Miami International Airport terminal, the lone expansion of the train system implemented since Miami-Dade voters approved a half-percent sales tax in 2002 dedicated to transportation.

Miami-Dade’s increasingly heated debate over how to reconcile broken transit pledges will be moving to court, with a Coral Gables commissioner suing the county and its mayor over using a voter-approved transportation tax to subsidize existing transit rather than expand it.

A half-percent sales tax voters approved in 2002 was linked to promises of more Metrorail corridors and expanded bus service. But Metrorail only grew by three miles, and Miami-Dade has cut bus routes. Meanwhile, the county relies on the 16-year-old tax to subsidize transit operations that existed before it passed.

“Defendants have diverted over a billion and a half dollars of sales surtax proceeds ... for purposes other than those authorized by the ballot measure,” reads the introduction to the lawsuit Commissioner Vince Lago and two other plaintiffs filed against Miami-Dade and Mayor Carlos Gimenez.

The plaintiffs are represented by Xavier Suarez, a Miami-Dade commissioner and top Gimenez foe who is fighting the mayor’s plan to bring “rapid-transit” buses to South Dade where Metrorail had been promised. Gimenez’s office had no immediate comment on the suit.

Read more at our news partner, the Miami Herald