TAXING DECISION: The Citizens' Independent Transportation Trust and Miami-Dade County Manager George Burgess have two months to consider providing transportation surtax funding to Doral, Miami Gardens and communities undergoing incorporation. County commissioners voted 9-0 Sept. 8 to conduct a feasibility study to be presented to the Regional Transportation Committee within 60 days.
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PITCHING IN: To aid victims of Hurricane Katrina, the City of Miami Fire-Rescue Department collected $91,000 from motorists over Labor Day weekend. Firefighters used hard hats and boots to collect donations from motorists inside city limits.
CENTER COSTS RISE: An additional $4 million is headed to the Miami Performing Arts Center after the Miami-Dade County Commission approved three change orders and one joint-participation agreement Sept. 8. The center is to get an additional $298,230 to install fixed theater seating and $2.7 million for kitchen equipment and security, sound and telecommunications systems. The $412,787 requested in a further change order is for road improvements at the venue on Biscayne Boulevard - further supported by the $480,000 a joint-participation agreement with the Florida Department of Transportation is to release.
CAMPAIGNING FOR MORE: A $250 limit on individual campaign donations and a ban on gifts from banks, corporations and unincorporated entities to candidates in Miami-Dade County may be up for review Tuesday. County commissioners were to have considered lifting the restrictions Sept. 8 but deferred action. Though the issue hasn't been assigned a new date, the commission next will Tuesday. State law allows up to $500 in individual donations and permits contributions from banks, corporations and unincorporated bodies. Some commissioners say they don't think the county's more rigid restraints have provided greater transparency.
INCENTIVES OK'D: A veiled financial entity that has pledged to bring 88 jobs and invest $100 million in western Miami-Dade County is to receive incentives of more than $4 million if it relocates here. County commissioners voted Thursday to approve two packages of inducements for a global processing center promising 50 direct and 38 indirect jobs with average salaries of $65,828 plus $13,000 in benefits. The first incentive provides annual tax breaks of $8,333.30 from 2007 to 2012; the second would provide yearly inducements of $385,061.20 from 2007 through 2016. The unidentified Beacon Council target is also looking at California as a possible location for its 200,000-square-foot operation.
EXPANDED ROLE: Former interim Miami-Dade Aviation Department Director Carlos Bonzon's role as assistant county manager has expanded since he resumed duties July 11, the day Jose Abreu took control of the airports. Mr. Bonzon oversees all county departments associated with transport except for the aviation department. For the past two months, he has assumed responsibility for the Miami River Commission and the Port of Miami - adding to his previous oversight of the Citizens' Independent Transportation Trust, Miami-Dade's Expressway Authority and Metropolitan Planning Organization, public works, Tri-Rail and transit. He is the county's representative to the Florida Department of Transportation and the Regional Transportation Authority.
MARKER MONEY: The City of Miami is receiving $29,000 from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to replace three channel marker platforms for Brennan's Channel at Dinner Key Marina in Coconut Grove.
BIKING IN STYLE: Miami police officers, accustomed to pedaling bicycles around the city in off hours with Chief John Timoney in the lead, will patrol on new bikes in style. An $82,000 24-month lease with Bruce Rossmeyer's Harley-Davidson of Fort Lauderdale will bring the department 25 motorcycles.
MUTUAL AID: Miami commissioners passed a resolution Sept. 8 authorizing City Manager Joe Arriola to execute a mutual-aid agreement with the Miami Police Department and other cities' police departments. In natural or manmade disasters, Miami police will help other municipal police units and ensure public safety.
SNACK ATTACK: Miami officials are establishing a special revenue fund for the Out-of-School Time Snack Program, which will provide food to participants in city parks for a year starting Oct. 1. The city is placing $206,388 in the fund while receiving grants from programs such as the Bureau of Child Nutrition, Child Care Food and Adult Care Food programs.
TAX TRAINING: Miami's Department of Community Development and H&R Block will work together to create jobs for next tax season. Block is looking to hire more than 2,000 county residents for seasonal posts - including tax professionals, receptionists and client service coordinators. City residents can enroll in Block's tax training for $70, below the usual $149-$279. Details: (305) 225-1668.
PHONE BILLS: Amid discussion that vendors of prepaid phone cards at Miami International Airport are notoriously late payers, the Miami-Dade County Commission voted Sept. 8 to award a $2.2 million three-year contract to Latin American Enterprises for 37 vending machines. The company is to pay the county $2.2 million or 25% of monthly gross revenues, whichever is higher. Aviation Director Jose Abreu told commissioners late payments from operators have been one of his biggest challenges. Before the vote, Commissioner Katy Sorenson suggested phone cards be sold only at news concessions.
FIU/MACY'S A HIT: All three of Florida International University's new graduate business classes launched downtown are full. Each of the MBA programs has 25 students enrolled, with 15 in the executive master of science in taxation. "The response has been wonderful," said Lourdes Herrero-Matus, downtown center manager. "All three of our current programs are at maximum capacity." She said she wants to land students for two new programs that will start in January - masters of science in international real estate and finance. The downtown campus opened Aug. 23 in the remodeled sixth floor of Macy's. Details: (305) 348-7398 or http://cba.fiu.edu.
WAGE ON STAGE: County commissioners have referred to an October subcommittee hearing a proposed ordinance to require businesses seeking funds for expansion or relocation to pay a living wage. A hearing of the proposed amendment to the Targeted Jobs Incentive Fund program is scheduled the Community Empowerment & Economic Revitalization Committee on Oct. 11.
VENDORS MEETING: The South Florida Water Management District is hosting a workshop to inform construction contractors of upcoming vendors' solicitation. The event is scheduled for 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sept. 20 at the DoubleTree hotel in Coconut Grove. The 16-county state agency manages and protects water resources and supply. Details: Florida Venture Foundation, (305) 444-9461, or Claudia M. Miro, (305) 377-7274, ext. 7223.
DOCTORS FIND A HOME: Pediatric group Edelstein Salinero Llanso MD has bought a $3 million home at 5646-50 SW Eighth St. in Coral Gables after a rezoning controversy left the doctors caught between investors and residents over the former Junior Chamber International Building at 400 University Dr. The property, the former La Moderna Poesia bookstore, was purchased from a Cesar Lopez trustee in late July. "The doctors plan on a loft-style medical office," said broker Rodney Langer of the Doran Jason Group of Florida. The pediatric group plans to remodel the old bookstore, which has a warehouse on the second floor, before moving early next year.
POLICE BONANZA: The International Association of Chiefs of Police is hosting its 112th conference at the Miami Beach Convention Center Sept. 24-28, bringing 13,000 participants who will spend 29,500 room nights and bring $25.3 million to the county, according to the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. Details: (703) 836-6767.