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Miami-Dade social services feel sequester pinch


Rosanna Taveras figured the federal budget cuts from the so-called sequester would go unnoticed at Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Miami.

But Taveras, the agency’s director, will close a Miami Gardens program that serves about 30 hot lunches a day to elderly residents of an apartment building.

“To be honest with you, I didn’t think we were going to be cut,’’ Taveras recalled. “But in the beginning of April, I realized I had to close something.”

Friday’s scheduled closing of the free-lunch program at the Saint Monica senior apartment building captures a string of ripple effects in South Florida from the sequester, a collection of $85 billion worth of spending cuts triggered by the failure of the White House and Congress to agree on deficit-reduction plan.

Although the nation’s airports caught most of the attention from the sequester, the cuts are being blamed for a string of smaller reductions at all levels of government, affecting mostly the elderly and poor.

Miami-Dade County last week alone issued a tally of estimated costs from the sequester for its operations, and the bulk of the $12 million tally comes from $9.5 million worth of security and immigration reductions at Miami International Airport. Beyond the high-profile airport impacts, the summary from Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s office shows smaller cuts to social services, including $730,000 in stipends to help the poor pay their utility bills and $25,000 for the county’s victims-assistance office.

The breakdown offers the first detailed look at the sequester’s estimated impact on Miami-Dade, Florida’s biggest county. With the sequester about to enter its third month, the ripple effects from the federal cuts still haven’t been fully measured or estimated by the local governments who rely on Washington to subsidize programs and facilities.

More here.