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Front Page » Top Stories » Miami Beach Reconsiders Role In Countys Tourist Tax And Its Use For

Miami Beach Reconsiders Role In Countys Tourist Tax And Its Use For

Written by on April 5, 2001

By Paola Iuspa
Miami Beach officials may change its stand on contributing to the county’s bed tax — a move that could derail plans by the City of Miami and Miami-Dade to build a baseball stadium downtown.

Jorge Gonzalez, Beach city manager, said Tuesday he’s looking at ways the city can prevent the county from spending the tax for projects unrelated to the Miami Beach Convention Center.

Commissioner Nancy Liebman, who is running for mayor, said the city wants to ensure "a rightful share of convention development tax."

Beach commissioners spoke about not getting a fair share in December when the county agreed to help finance a third of a $385 million stadium for the Florida Marlins.

Mr. Gonzalez said he will weigh terminating or re-drafting the city’s pact. In 1983, the state created the tax on hotel rooms to enhance or expand the Miami Beach Convention Center — 40% of the annual tax is collected on the Beach.

A 1996 revised agreement calls for the city to get $1.5 million for six years instead of $4.5 million so that the difference could help finance the planned performing art center for the entire county. But a clause in that deal could get the city off the hook for the higher contribution.

"It says the city and the county shall be relieved of any further obligations if either the construction of the performing arts center project or the related issuance of the performing arts center bonds does not occur prior to March 31," Mr. Gonzalez said.

Since construction has not started yet, he said, Miami Beach is "in its right to terminate the agreement," Mr. Gonzalez said.

George Burgess, executive assistant to the county manager, said does not agree. He said bonds for the construction of the performing art center have been issued, validating the agreement.

"I don’t think," he said, "they are reading it correctly."