Fact check from Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust regarding misstatements about a $13M surplus
Recent news reports have included incorrect information provided by Commissioner Marc Sarnoff and the Miami Downtown Development Authority (DDA) regarding the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust’s finances. Their statements suggest that non-existent funds should be used to help fund a “homeless plan” that this business group has developed. The facts are as follows:
There is no $13 million “surplus.”
The Homeless Trust’s annual budget funds more than 5,600 beds and services that – on a daily basis – serve homeless and formerly homeless men, women and children. The budget includes two specific restricted reserves: a capital reserve and a tax equalization reserve. Combined they are approximately $7 million and exist for the reason that reserves are strongly recommended and encouraged as sound and responsible fiscal policy. In particular, these two reserves serve as backups for emergencies, such as covering budgeted costs when tax collections are lower than expected or impacted by severe economic downturns, or to address the major capital replacement needs of County-owned homeless facilities that are decades old. The other reserve reflected in the Homeless Trust’s budget belongs to the Domestic Violence Oversight Board; the Homeless Trust does not manage and cannot touch those dollars. The Domestic Violence Oversight Board is the entity with the fiduciary responsibility to manage those funds.
Keeping reserves is sound fiscal policy and has been the policy of the Homeless Trust for several years - and was recommended by the County’s own Office of Management and Budget. The Trust approves an annual budget at a public noticed meeting. The budget for fiscal year 2013-2014 includes the expenditure of more than $3.2 million in carryover funds that were the result of unanticipated tax revenues.
There is no $13M “surplus” in the Homeless Trust’s accounts.
About The Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust: Founded in 1993, The Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust is a county agency headed by a board of 27 volunteers which serves in an advisory capacity to the Miami-Dade County Commission charged with the responsibility of implementing the Miami-Dade County Community Homeless Plan. These volunteers represent the business, religious, educational, provider and political communities, along with formerly homeless individuals. For more information regarding The Homeless Trust visit www.homelesstrust.org.