Ron Book Discusses Miami-Dade County Considering Restaurant Tax to Fund Homeless Programs and Domestic Violence Shelters

Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust is pushing to eliminate the in law exemption from charging the 1% Food & Beverage Tax to end homelessness in Miami-Dade to include those stand alone restaurants in Miami Beach, Surfside, and Bal Harbour. This tax currently charged in certain restaurants in 32 of Miami-Dade’s 35 cities, funds homeless outreach programs, temporary shelters, and permanent housing initiatives across the county.

Why it Matters:

The Homeless Trust indicates they are facing a funding shortage. This expansion would generate an additional $10 million annually, allowing the community to be the first urban community in the U.S. to end homelessness.

Restaurants grossing $400,000 or more and owning a liquor license in Miami Beach, Surfside, and Bal Harbour have been exempt from charging the tax; however, recent legislation allows voters in these areas to decide on its implementation through a referendum.

Chairman Ron Book told Axios that he estimates the Trust would receive an additional $10 million if the tax exemption is lifted in Miami Beach, Surfside, and Bal Harbour restaurants.

Arguments for the Tax Expansion:

Proponents like Chairman Ron Book say the tax would provide crucial funding to combat homelessness and support domestic violence shelters.

Miami Beach voters previously expressed support for the tax in a non-binding straw ballot.

Arguments Against the Tax Expansion:

Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez questions the effectiveness and transparency of the Homeless Trust.

She points out that Miami Beach already contributes significantly to the county through property taxes.

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett believes Surfside has contributed fairly and prefers to continue supporting the Trust in other ways.

Ron Book says the Homeless Trust is fully transparent about its finances and has made huge strides to end homelessness in the county over the last 30 years, reducing unsheltered homelessness by over 90% during that period.

“Negative rhetoric gets us nowhere and we should all remain focused on being the first community in America to end homelessness and it should be every community leader’s goal to join and be a part,” Book wrote in an email.

Current Situation:

Miami Beach and Bal Harbour have approved ballot measures for the November election.

Surfside has not yet approved a measure, and Mayor Burkett opposes the tax.

Commissioner Rosen Gonzalez may propose rescinding Miami Beach’s ballot measure.

Miami-Dade County is debating a restaurant tax expansion to bolster programs for the homeless and victims of domestic violence. While some see it as a necessary funding source, others question its effectiveness and fairness. In November, voters in Miami Beach and Bal Harbour will ultimately decide on the issue.

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Sudarsan Chakraborty
Sudarsan Chakraborty
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