City Of Miami Likely To Put New Parking Surcharge On November Ballot
By Susan Stabley
Miami voters are likely to determine whether the city’s unpopular parking surcharge will be continued.
Unlike the current 20% surcharge on anyone who parks in the city’s lots, a 15% tax could be imposed indefinitely if Gov. Jeb Bush signs a bill into law and voters approve.
The city is expected to place the issue on the November ballot, city spokesman Carlos McDonald said Tuesday.
The 20% parking surcharge was enacted in the late 1990s by the city to offset property taxes while the municipality was in financial trouble. The fee has been challenged, and a lawsuit claims it is unconstitutional.
Meanwhile, the state law allowing the surcharge has been rewritten and the 20% fee is to remain in effect until Oct. 1, 2004.
This month, the Florida Legislature approved a bill that would allow cities that meet certain qualifications to levy a parking fee, if voters approve it, without being in a financial emergency.
The bill would allow a municipality with a population of 200,000 or more and with more than 20% of its properties exempt from ad valorem taxes to seek passage of the parking tax.
Mr. McDonald said Miami would qualify. Properties not taxed within Miami’s city limits include government buildings, Jackson Memorial Hospital and the county’s Vizcaya property, he said.
"That’s $50 million dollars worth – it’s a big chunk of taxation we’re not getting," he said.