Incorporation Noose Tighter Commission Oks Hearing Rule
By Candice Ventra
Miami-Dade officials have made another move to tighten the county’s policy on allowing areas to incorporate.
Commissioners voted Tuesday to require a hearing to initiate incorporation procedures. The item, sponsored by Barbara Carey-Shuler, calls for the hearing even if a county commissioner sponsors the request.
Presently, certain preliminary steps including first public hearings can be bypassed in incorporation procedures if the issue is brought before the 13-member board by a fellow commissioner, said County Attorney Robert Ginsburg.
"This further restricts the commission’s power," Mr. Ginsburg said of the proposal.
Last month the commission voted not to allow Fisher Island to incorporate. Several island residents against incorporation voiced concerns to commissioners, saying they were not aware of the initial hearing on the topic.
The Fisher Island issue was first brought before the commission and sponsored by Bruno Barreiro. The issue was first heard without an official hearing being announced. Ms. Carey-Shuler said she wants to prevent that from happening again.
"This ordinance only changes the initial public hearing," she said. "The item can still be brought in front of us, but we have to do it through a public hearing first."
The proposed ordinance dovetails with some commissioners’ efforts to make policies for incorporations stricter.
Some commissioners say that when wealthy communities such as Fisher Island incorporate they take part of the county’s tax base with them, leaving poorer, unincorporated areas without enough money for adequate police and fire services.
Late last month commissioners passed an ordinance sponsored by Dennis Moss to suspend negotiations with the municipal advisory committee for incorporations until Tuesday’s election.
Voters were asked in a referendum to require areas to keep agreements made with the county once they incorporate.
This policy would apply to future areas looking to become municipalities. Groups in the Redlands, Country Club Lakes, Palmetto Lakes and Doral have taken initial steps toward incorporation, although further procedures have been suspended until after this week’s vote.
The soon-to-incorporate Miami Lakes, which has moved deep into the process, is set to have a charter written in time for a Dec. 5 countywide election. Then, residents will vote on the proposed town.