Dollar Dollar Bills, Y'all

Back up the Brinks truck, baby, it's budget-busting time: Readers of this morning's Herald can be forgiven if the dollar signs in their eyes distracted them from the finer print.

First, the lead story asked this tantalizing question: "Could Florida end the homeowner property tax?" The answer: Well, maybe, but get ready for a huge hike in sales taxes if legislators choose that route as a way to grapple with escalating taxes on homeowners. Florida's sales tax could rise by more than two cents, making it the highest in the nation.

Then there was this bit of news on the Metro front: "Mayor Alvarez presents big agenda, few details." Flush with new strong mayor powers, Alvarez looks ready to flex his muscle with a batch of proposals that boggle the mind with their bank-breaking potential: a downtown baseball stadium for the Florida Marlins, a tunnel for the Port of Miami-Dade, elevated pay-to-use lanes on Interstate 95, and wireless Internet service for all. And how to pay for this sweet spending suite? Mum was the word.

The backdrop for Alvarez's Santa Claus act was the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts, appropriately enough. In an inside story positioned at the top of the page where the Alvarez story jumped, the Herald reported that the final accounting for the Carnival's construction budget had climbed, again, to $473 million, a few hundred million dollars more than originally envisioned more than two decades ago. --Frank Houston

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Frank Houston