Countys New Transit Tax Needs Oversight Team Before Spending Can Begin
By Frank Norton
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Citizen watchdogs, yet to be named but who can stall any spending of the county’s new transit tax, should be named by the end of March, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Bruno Barreiro says – "although I’m shooting for January."
The transportation sales tax, approved by county voters this month, is set to be added to all transactions beginning Jan. 1 except those for certain medicines and food or on that portion of goods beyond $5,000.
But according to an ordinance built into the transit-tax initiative, the county cannot spend any of the new sales tax money it collects until a citizens’ oversight board is ready to audit the process.
The makeup of the 15-member review board will include one county commission appointee from each of the 13 commission districts – ostensibly for balanced geographic representation, county officials said. The mayor and the Miami-Dade League of Cities each appoint one of the remaining two board members.
Before these permanent appointments are made, a 20-member nominating committee must put together a candidate list from which commissioners will choose.
According to the ordinance, the temporary nominating committee must appoint four possible candidates for each commissioner.
"They’re supposed to meet in a couple of weeks," Commissioner Barreiro said of the nominating committee. "Then we can ratify them and they can begin that selection process."
Mr. Barreiro was instrumental in designing the citizens’ oversight component to watch over the spending of public money and ensure it is used only for transportation-earmarked projects.
"We should definitely have a permanent review board set up by the first quarter or we won’t be able to spend any money," he said.
Groups pre-selected for representation on the nominating committee include the United Way, the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Miami-Dade Ethics Commission and the Miami-Dade branch of the NAACP.
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