Miami-Dade approves more coronavirus relief money for cities. They say it’s not enough.

$100 million is an increase from earlier proposal, but still less than cities say they deserve from CARES Act

County commissioners increased the amount of CARES funding they'd send to their cities from $30 million to $100 million but some city leaders say that still isn't a large enough piece of the pie.

HIALEAH, Fla. – Against a backdrop of cities threatening to sue the county over CARES Act funding, Miami-Dade commissioners passed a motion Tuesday for a new allocation for the county’s 34 municipalities.

“$100 million in CARES Act funds. Let me repeat that: $100 million in CARES Act funds,” said Commissioner Dennis Moss, who brought the motion.

That amount is far more than the most recent plan of $30 million, which had triggered a warning of potential legal action from the Miami-Dade County League of Cities, but less than the municipalities had originally wanted based on population.

“I don’t think the cities are going to be really happy with it. I don’t think we’re really happy with it, which means, I think it’s a pretty good solution,” County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said.

Said Keon Hardemon, the MDCLC President and a Miami Commissioner: “The amount of dollars the county has allocated towards us to come up with programming for our community is just not enough.”

Miami-Dade County received $474 million in CARES Act funds (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) because it met the population threshold of more than 500,000 that was part of the federal guidelines.

The county administration’s view has been that the allocations for mitigation efforts and relief programs benefit residents countywide. The cities maintain they have localized needs that CARES Act dollars help fund; that the money should have been distributed from the county to the municipalities based on population.

Hialeah’s mayor says his city’s COVID-19 response expenses alone are more than $40 million, not to mention the needs yet to come.

“A hundred million dollars?” Carlos Hernandez said, shaking his head at the total decided upon Tuesday. “We have thousands of businesses that I don’t know if they’re going to make it.”

With coronavirus community spread preventing Miami-Dade County from moving past the current partial return to business, there’s a recognition that more federal dollars may be needed.

“I’ve spoken to both our [U.S.] senators and made it very clear that ... this is not the way it’s supposed to go,” Hernandez said. “If the federal government is going to be giving more money, I hope it doesn’t give it straight to the county and gives it to the cities, based on population, so we wouldn’t be going through this process right now.”

In a statement, Miami City Commissioner Ken Russell said:

“I’m glad to see that the County Commission has recognized that $30 million split among 34 cities wasn’t going to cut it. I’m not sure even $100 million does, but at least now there is a path to better communication and sharing the load of taking care of our communities.

“The financial recovery plan is a failure if it does not specifically address how municipalities will receive funding. Without predictable stabilization, cities will not be able to support local residents and businesses and may not implement the necessary health related policies.”

Also Tuesday, Miami-Dade County approved a CARES Act-funded $3 million relief grant program for hotel workers and passed a resolution directing the county mayor’s office to prepare monthly reports showing how it has spent federal dollars (both CARES Act and FEMA) to help with the COVID-19 response.

They also decided to consider the county’s unincorporated municipal service area a municipality for the purposes of allocating and distributing CARES Act funding and/or that from the proposed HEROES Act.

About the Author:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."