Miami-Dade County Commissioners on Wednesday authorized a special election Nov. 2 for about 18,000 voters in the Biscayne Gardens neighborhood to decide whether the area should become its own municipality.
In an 11-2 vote, the county council agreed to let the residents of Biscayne Gardens decide whether stop paying the Miami-Dade Municipal Services Tax and instead form their own government with its own property taxes and budget. A majority vote on Nov. 2 would trigger a process to form the 35th Municipality of Miami-Dade on an area on either side of I-95, between North Miami and North Miami Beach.
County forecasts show the property tax rate would double in the new village of Biscayne Gardens, to $ 4 per $ 1,000 of assessed value on the less than $ 2 Miami-Dade charges outside of city limits for municipal services. The incorporation would also free Biscayne Gardens from direct county control, allowing locally elected leaders to make decisions on zoning, municipal spending and planning.
The years-long debate over incorporation has divided the 35,000 residents of Biscayne Gardens. Opponents warn of higher taxes and unnecessary duplication in government bureaucracy. Supporters predict a local government more responsive to the wishes of residents, especially on zoning and development decisions.
“I don’t think I need another board,” Leslie Miranda, a resident of the area, told commissioners ahead of the vote. “I am very satisfied with the services I receive. ”
Marvin Ramsey urged commissioners to let him and his fellow citizens decide whether they want to form a local government themselves. “Vote for democracy,” he said. “Let the people of Biscayne Gardens decide. “
Jean Monestime, the District 2 Limited Commissioner representing the Biscayne Gardens area, said the incorporation process began nearly 20 years ago when the county formed a task force to incorporate the area into 2003. “The hope is, after 18 years, to put voters before the voters,” he declared.
Other commissioners also celebrated the value of democracy by explaining their vote in favor of the referendum. But Commissioner Rebeca Sosa stressed that the same committee chose in December not to hold special elections to fill the committee seat left vacant by Daniella Levine Cava when she became mayor. Instead, the board appointed Danielle Cohen Higgins to the District 8 headquarters. The November special election in the Biscayne Gardens area will cost around $ 94,000, but would not incur an additional expense if it had. held in the summer of 2022 during county-wide elections.
“This commission decided not to spend taxpayer money on a special election,” Sosa said before joining Joe Martinez in the two-nays vote against the referendum. “When it comes to a regular election that doesn’t cost the public extra money, let the people decide. ”