Miami mayor threatens legal action against county for relief fund allocation amid pandemic

Florida News

MIAMI (WSVN) – City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez spoke about the potential of taking legal action against the county over an allocation of relief funds as the state reached another grim milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Tuesday, the Florida Department of Health reported a record-high amount of deaths for the state with an increase of 186, bringing the total to 6,117.

FDOH also reported another 9,230 COVID-19 cases in Florida, 3,037 of which were reported in Miami-Dade, 873 in Broward and 30 cases in Monroe County.

“Statewide, we’ve seen a decline in visits for COVID-like illness to emergency departments,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said, “a stabilization or decline in the COVID hospital census at hospitals throughout the state, which is, again, is another positive signal.”

At city hall, Suarez spoke about a legal battle brewing among local leaders.

The mayor said he’s looking to take legal action against Miami-Dade County over COVID-19 relief funding.

Earlier in July, county officials proposed giving cities about $135 million in COVID-19 relief since they are ineligible to get it directly from Washington.

“It is offensive, and it is insulting the way that they carried this on,” said Suarez. “We’re entitled to receive, based on population, $81 million in federal help.”

He said instead, the county slashed the amount to $30 million to cities in Miami-Dade County without prior notice.

“There are a lot of people talking a lot of stuff that they really don’t know what they’re talking about,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said. “This money is meant to go to the people of Miami-Dade County. It’s not meant to go to the governments of Miami-Dade County.”

Suarez stated the county never rejected an offer.

“We’re not going to be able to use [it] to pay our firefighters, to pay our police officers that are on the frontline of COVID,” he said. “That’s money that we could use to avoid having to raise taxes and fees on our residents. They have taken all that money and given it away to whoever they want to, and they have negotiated in complete bad faith.”

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber focused on one of the challenges of containing the spread.

“People need to have a sense of urgency that this is important,” he said. “That’s how they’re going to lean into wearing the masks, the physical distancing and when they hear the governor and they hear the president saying, ‘Don’t worry. This is fine. Go out, you don’t have to wear a mask. Open up the economy,’ they believe that maybe this is a green light to do whatever you want.”

Gelber has also asked the state to improve contact tracing in the county.

In Miami, Suarez said 167 tickets were handed out for not complying with face covering mandates and 30 businesses were shut down for not following guidelines.

Gimenez reacted to Suarez’s comments Tuesday afternoon. He said it is on the county to manage the funds and to reimburse cities for COVID-related expenses.

“Start giving us your invoices,” he said. “We’ll be happy to start reimbursing you for those things. Cities want some kind of a blank check from Miami-Dade. That’s not going to happen. Nobody called me and said ‘Let’s talk about this.’ They just want a news conference, and now, they’re threatening us with a lawsuit. That’s not the way you — I went to negotiating school. Miami-Dade County has never said that we’re not going to be reimbursing the cities for COVID-19 eligible expenses.”

Meanwhile, new COVID-19 testing sites continue to open throughout South Florida.

Children of all ages can get tested for free by registering online starting next week.

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