Arts Center Check Isnt In The Mail
By Risa Polansky
Miami and Miami-Dade County’s mega-deal of major projects hit another snag this week: a $5.3 million check toward performing arts center debt, due to the county March 31, remained in city hands April 1.
December’s "global agreement" requires Miami’s Omni Community Redevelopment Agency to increase its arts center debt payments to free county money to build a stadium for the Florida Marlins.
The funding became due annually March 31 when the governments on March 3 approved a stadium, their agreement says.
For this reason, new City Attorney Julie O. Bru said issuing the payment required no agency action, Commissioner Tomás Regalado said — "but that’s not the way it’s done. You need to have a public hearing, you need to have a resolution."
Ms. Bru opined that, with the stadium agreement set, "tender of the check is automatic," said Jim Villacorta, agency executive director. Payment was listed as a discussion item for the agency’s March 31 board meeting "as a matter of custom."
Mr. Regalado walked out in protest. "The whole thing was wrong," he said. "I didn’t want to be part of that charade."
He has from the outset protested expanding the redevelopment agency to back the mega-plan’s projects instead of improving blighted areas.
Expanding the agency’s bounds would increase revenues, providing for the payments to the arts center and the agreement’s other projects, including a Port of Miami tunnel.
It has not yet been expanded, so the extra money isn’t guaranteed.
Auto magnate Norman Braman is suing to prevent it. The stadium agreement also faces a hurdle as the city and county struggle over who will police it.
Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones, chair of the agency board, asked to hold the arts center check in order to clarify the issue with the city attorney.