Dade County Staff Instructed To Provide Publicprivate Project Reports
Written by Lou Ortiz on December 13, 2007
By Lou Ortiz
A request for a quarterly report on all Miami-Dade County public-private projects — a task called "time consuming" by the county manager — was ordered by commissioners last week.
Commissioners voted 10-2 to have the mayor’s office file the first report to the Budget and Finance Committee within 90 days on all public-private partnerships, including non-profit corporations.
The report would include such things as the project’s status, the private entity’s contribution, whether the project is facing difficulty and cost estimates, among other items.
"This is a long, involved request," said Commissioner Natacha Seijas, who voted no on Dec. 6. "I don’t want to support this ordinance. I think it goes too far."
Commissioner Katy Sorenson also voted no. Ms. Seijas said she favored "complete disclosure" and having the county staff alert commissioners to problems when they occur instead of requiring the report.
"We need better interaction between the county manager’s staff and commissioners," she said. "This [report] gives specific orders. I’m not in a position to tell them what to do."
The resolution follows an embarrassing scandal that unfolded over the summer surrounding the county’s involvement with a failed biotechnology park that collapsed amid chronic delays and allegations of waste and mismanagement. Lack of county oversight was acknowledged as contributing to the problems.
The county anticipates an increase in the use of public-private partnerships, which give the county access to additional funding from private sector resources at a time when available revenue sources, including ad valorem revenues, to fund capital projects are decreasing.
During Thursday’s meeting, County Manager George M. Burgess told commissioners that county staff may err, although they’re not supposed to, "but we’re human."
"This is a long list of things," he said. "There’s far too much detail here… very time consuming. All we need to do is keep a more orderly dialogue."
But Commissioner Carlos A. Gimenez, who sponsored the resolution, said county staff wouldn’t be burdened because there are 30,000 county employees.