Downtown Development Authority Vote On Tax Rate In Question
Written by Risa Polansky on December 6, 2007
By Risa Polansky
The Florida Department of Revenue says a failure to get an affirmative vote from all five Miami commissioners who oversee Miami’s Downtown Development Authority invalidated the agency’s adopted tax rate. The city attorney disagrees.
At stake is more than $500,000 in added funds the disputed rate would raise.
The authority in the fall proposed a half mil, the same as last year, instead of adopting the rollback rate that would have produced the same amount collected last year. A mil is $1 for every $1,000 of taxable valuation.
Without rolling back rates, the authority capitalizes on increased property value assessments, yielding at least $4.27 million, up from the $3.75 million the rolled-back rate would yield, said Executive Director Dana A. Nottingham via e-mail.
Florida law this year allowed independent special districts such as the authority, which promotes downtown development, to escape the legislature’s tax rate rollback through a unanimous vote of the governing body — in this case, Miami’s commissioners.
The four on the dias for the September vote OK’d setting the same rate as last year’s.
But the state insists absence of a commissioner for the vote fails to constitute a unanimous vote, Mr. Nottingham wrote. "The Miami DDA, through the City Attorney’s office, disagrees with DOR on this point."
He said the city is talking with the state on the issue.
Commissioner Tomás Re-galado, the missing link, said he’d have voted no had he stayed for the vote.
But rather than start a debate and unaware of the "unanimous" rule, he said, he left the dais "as a way to punish them. I didn’t want to be there to rubberstamp something I didn’t believe in.
"It’s not fair for the downtown business owners to pay an extra tax for services that I think they are not getting."