FYI Miami: April 18, 2019
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NO AIRPORT CLUBS VOTE: A 10-year lease agreement between Miami-Dade and American Airlines for two VIP clubs at Miami International Airport isn’t yet final, as county commissioners last week deferred an item, sponsored by Rebeca Sosa, to approve the new deal with the air carrier and retroactively expand its Admirals Club and Flagship Lounge at the hub’s North Terminal gates D-15 and D-30. Deputy Mayor Jack Osterholt wrote in an accompanying memo that the airline needed to expand its space by more than 52% to accommodate its clubs’ offerings and “provide a more elegant and modern customer experience.” The lease terms provide that American will pay the county no less than $80 million in rent over a decade as well as 18% of monthly gross liquor sales revenue, 10% of gross sales from other amenities not directly provided by the aviation department and a 35% “opportunity fee” charge for non-member passengers who buy day passes to the clubs. No date is listed for when commissioners will next consider the item, which last month cleared the county’s tourism committee by a 5-0 vote.
TACKLING SALES TAX: The Florida House last week approved a proposal that would make it harder to raise local sales taxes. The House voted 69-44 to pass a measure that targets local sales-tax referendums. Under the bill, sales-tax ballot proposals would have to be approved by two-thirds of voters, up from the current majority. Also, such referendums would have to be held at the time of general elections instead of in lower-turnout elections.
NO “PERSONAL FAVORS”: When an elected official asks a city employee for a personal favor, he or she is “exploiting” his or her official position, according to probable cause findings by the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust against El Portal Mayor Claudia Cubillos. According to an April 10 release from the office, Ms. Cubillos’ request that a village code enforcement officer use his personal vehicle to move a piano being donated to her private daycare center was an ethics violation. “Because the ‘favor’ occurred after hours and did not involve the use of village property, Mayor Cubillos stipulated to probable cause and agreed to waive a hearing,” the release stated, adding that while the commission dismissed the complaint, it ordered Ms. Cubillos to pay $500 in investigative costs and accept a letter of instruction.
GAS PRICES UP: Miami gas prices rose 3 cents per gallon on average last week to average $2.79 per gallon on Monday, according to GasBuddy price tracking service. That’s up 11.8 cents per gallon in the past month and 10.9 cents per gallon in the past year. AAA-The Auto Club Group said prices are now at their 2019 high.