2016 Ballot Recommendations – County Charter Amendments

NO on #1
YES on #2

Don’t be fooled by the fact these two issues seem about as obscure as stuff gets (but wait! I’ll be doing the Coral Gables Charter question anon – I’m sure you are waiting with great anticipation for that!).

On Amendment No 1 as the League of Women Voters aptly summarized it:

A YES vote would:

  • Allow for municipalities, the city council, to establish the annual rates to be assessed with the special taxing district for that municipality.
  • Allow decision making process to be more localized so that tax paying citizens within that municipality for the taxing district would have a more direct say.  
  • Create a new responsibility and cost for the city council to manage and operate the special taxing district
  • Municipalities would not be required to follow County contracting rules, including that contractors must pay workers a living wage.

A NO vote would:

  • The process for operating special taxing districts would remain the same, changes to the annual rates to be assessed for the specific municipality and special taxing district would be made by the Board of County Commissioners .  
  • Miami-Dade County would continue to be responsible for the management and operation of the special taxing district for the respective municipalities, and all related costs would be the responsibility of Miami-Dade County
  • All contractors and vendors hired by the County must comply with County contracting rules, including that they pay their workers a living wage.

There is no question that the county has done a lousy job monitoring special taxing districts. As an abstract matter, it does make sense to push control down closer to the areas affected by a district. But in practice, given the very poor quality of the administration of several of the municipalities in the county (Homestead, Opa Locka, and others) I suspect that giving control to municipalities would too often open the door to (even greater than current) shenanigans.

FWIW, the Miami Herald editorial board agrees that No. 1 is a bad idea:

The Editorial Board gets that this is a way for neighborhoods to have a direct say in their district instead of waiting for Big Government to respond to their needs. This would allow the decision-making process to be more localized.

But we’re also wary about the creation of new pots of money for municipalities as a hotbed for possible mishandling at best, and malfeasance at worst.

It creates a new responsibility and cost for a city council or commission to manage and operate the special taxing district. Are these municipalities ready for the task? How will this new money be administered by some small municipalities? Not every city is, say, Opa-locka, but you get the point. The County Commission would establish the rules for cities creating new districts. But how will these funds be monitored once the county steps out of the picture?

Here’s another down side: Municipalities would not be required to follow county contracting rules, including that contractors pay workers a living wage.

Vote NO on County Charter Amendments No. 1 (Vote No on Florida Constitutional Amendment 1 too – remember “NO on 1” in all cases!)

Amendment No 2 mildly strengthens public access to public records by giving a right to copy as well as read them. This won’t change current practices, but it will entrench the right to copy which is currently merely statutory. Vote YES on No. 2

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