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Front Page » Top Stories » Burgess Beef With City Could Be Settled Soon

Burgess Beef With City Could Be Settled Soon

www.miamitodaynews.com
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Written by on March 23, 2006

By Suzy Valentine
The county’s top administrator says he’s ready to talk to his Miami counterpart about arrangements for paying off a federal loan that financed construction of a failing city attraction.

Last week, Miami-Dade County Manager George Burgess blocked extension of city community redevelopment agencies in Omni and Overtown, citing a dispute with Miami City Manager Joe Arriola over payments for Parrot Jungle Island on Watson Island.

"It could be resolved tomorrow," said Mr. Burgess of a crisis prompted by a letter from Mr. Arriola this month in which he reneged on a September agreement. "Joe sent a letter saying he’d changed his mind because of the city’s growing financial burdens. There are a number of different issues involved. My thinking is that when you agree to something, you don’t back out."

Mr. Arriola was unavailable for comment Tuesday.

In a letter dated Sept. 30, Mr. Arriola said the city would assume a 70% share of a Section 108 loan for Parrot Jungle Island – a variance from the original deal in which Miami was to pay for 80%. Earlier this month, Mr. Arriola wrote again in an attempt to revoke the agreement.

That caused Mr. Burgess to block bids to prolong the terms of two community redevelopment agencies. The extension of the Omni agency to 2027 was to have released millions of tax dollars that could benefit the Miami Performing Arts Center.

"The strategy was to use a portion of the tax increments," Mr. Burgess said. "Of the monies that would to be put toward the arts center – somewhere in the region of $70 million – $34 million would go toward construction. The balance would be used to pay the debt on bonds that contribute to the operating costs of the venue through the creation of an operating endowment."