Written by Miami Today on June 17, 2010
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SWEET DEAL FOR SWEETWATER: Despite worries and warnings of Miami-Dade County’s shrinking tax base, commissioners gave initial approval Tuesday to allow the City of Sweetwater to annex the Dolphin Mall area and keep revenues generated there, pending voter approval. Some commissioners and the administration have argued against the annexation, envisioning commercial growth — and therefore revenue growth — in the area that could be a boon to the cash-strapped county. Others say Sweetwater needs it more. The county’s Budget, Planning and Sustainability Committee is to consider the issue Sept. 14.
TUNNEL COVER: With construction underway on the port tunnels project on Miami-owned Watson Island, Commissioner Willy Gort questioned why the city doesn’t have insurance. "What is the liability of the City of Miami? How are we being protected?" he asked at a commission meeting last week. Assistant City Attorney Veronica Xiques said officials in making the deal for the project felt comfortable without insurance because the city isn’t involved in the day-to-day construction or operations of the underwater tunnels. Commission Chair Marc Sarnoff, an attorney by trade, jumped in to add that in such a case, "the landowner is absolved of all liabilities…. The state of the law is in our favor."
CAPITAL CAPTAIN: After Johnny Martinez left Miami-Dade in April to take an assistant manager position at the City of Miami, George Navarrete has been named head of the county’s Office of Capital Improvements, where he’ll oversee the $2.9 billion Building Better Communities general obligation bond program. "I think we’re in very, very good hands with George," County Manager George Burgess told commissioners Tuesday, lauding Mr. Navarrete for his decades of county service, project and construction management experience and "very evident work ethic." The appointment was met with a standing ovation from commissioners and a packed chamber.
ECONOMIC BOND: Miami-Dade commissioners have set policy for spending $90 million in voter-approved general obligation bond funding meant to support economic development activity. To make sure the money is spread, lawmakers voted Tuesday not to limit funding to specific areas as the administration suggested but to instead acknowledge places like the health district and seaport as strategic, but not the only, locations for projects meant to spur economic development. They also established a range for project value to ensure endeavors are large enough to make an impact but not so big that they suck up too much of the pot: $10 million to $15 million per project, though commissioners can vote later to bend the rules project by project.
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