Council rejects moving elections back to October

Tuesday, February 13, 2018 0 Comments


Seeking his colleagues’ support for a charter amendment to change Miami Lakes’ municipal election back to the original month of October, Councilmember Tim Daubert’s proposal was quickly shot down. 

In fact, Daubert was the only lawmaker who voted yes for his idea to ask residents whether they wanted the election month switched when they flock to the polls in November.

At the February 6 Town Council meeting, Mayor Manny Cid, Vice Mayor Frank Mingo and Councilmembers Ceasar Mestre, Luis Collazo and Marilyn Ruano voted against his proposal, indicating November draws a bigger voter turnout and costs the town less money.

Councilmember Nelson Rodriguez was absent.  

According to Miami-Dade Elections Department, a stand-alone election would cost the town about $40,000 and the November election is estimated at $15,000. 

Following incorporation in 2000, the original town charter called for Miami Lakes’ elections to be held in October, but the charter was amended in 2010, when about 80 percent of residents voted for the November change, according to the town’s election results.

Daubert said an October election would reflect Miami Lakes’ small-town character, doing away with a long ballot, which he says causes a lot of confusion among residents, and longer waiting lines in November.

“If you ask residents, they would rather pay an extra dollar for an October election instead of standing in long lines,” Daubert said. “I really think we are a small town and we should go back to October. Let’s allow residents the  privilege of answering that question.”

Cid said he understands Daubert’s intentions but wants to keep the town’s elections in November for a better voter turnout.

“I want more people to vote, more people to take part in our democracy,” Cid said. “

Ruano echoed similar sentiments.  

“The more people who vote, the better for Miami Lakes,” she said. “More people voting catches on like a fever.”

Meastre, who was on the ballot in October and November elections, said “14,000 votes is better than 3,000 votes.

“The more people who vote the better it is,” he said. “I like to leave it the way it is.” 

In other Counciil actions:

• Council members gave their final approval for an ordinance which amends the Government Property Zoning section of the town’s land development code, to remedy specified deficiencies and to provide for communication facilities.

Town staff recently explored an amendment to the town code that would provide for a procedure to authorize the location of communication facilities on town owned property. 

Site planning on governmentally controlled properties is provided by the GP, Government Property District, regulations which provide for the required review procedures. However, a close examination of the town’s code discovered three deficiencies that needed to be addressed. The first relates to an automatic rezoning provision which automatically changes the zoning of land upon the purchase or sale of a governmental entity. The second deficiency that the provisions do not provide for is a minor administrative site plan adjustment procedure as would be afforded to a privately held piece of land. Third, the permitted uses needs to be expanded to include communication facilities and other necessary uses that serve the Town’s residents.

• Council members gave their final approval for an ordinance in responding to new state law which now allows communications equipment within the town’s rights-of-way.

In light of the newly enacted bill, the Town Council extended the moratorium an additional six months to thoroughly review the amended statutes, evaluate their implication, and prepare an ordinance that ensures the town’s local codes comport with state law.

• Council members gave their final approval for an ordinance to amend the town’s current budget for additional funding for a generator and enclosure at Miami Lakes Town Hall ($147,085); the Lake Sarah Roadway and Drainage improvement ($67,000); planning and zoning cost recovery ($127,835); and N.W. 82 Avenue and Oak Lane Reconfiguration ($22,108).

• Lawmakers, on first reading, approved an ordinance to amend the conditional use provisions for the sunsetting of such approvals when the uses cease operations.

Last year, the Town Council directed the town manager to explore provisions addressing the disposition of conditional uses that have ceased operations, and to return, if possible, with an amendment to the town’s land development code, which allows such conditional use approvals to expire once they cease to operate for a specified period of time. 

To date, town staff confirmed the operational status of the existing conditional uses authorized within the town. The ordinance will commence with notifying those uses about the new measure and making them aware of the annual certificate of use renewal requirement. Any business that is not in operation pursuant to the conditional use approval within 12 months of the effective date of the ordinance would be deemed to have abandoned such use.

• Council members, on first reading, approved an ordinance to allow a developer, Alari Holding, to rezone property from general use and interim district to low density residential/office.

The property, located at the south end of N.W. 77th Avenue and east of the Palmetto Expressway, is an undeveloped lot consisting of three parcels, much of which is encumbered by easements owned by FPL.   

• Lawmakers approved several resolutions relating to the town’s recent take over of the county’s special taxing districts for lake maintenance and security guard gates for Loch Lomond, Lake Patricia, Lakes Hilda, and two areas in Royal Oaks.

Residents overwhelmingly approved Miami Lakes taking control over the districts during a mail-in ballot special election.  

The first step for Miami Lakes is approving the resolutions to request to the property appraiser to include the town’s proposed or adopted non-ad valorem assessments for collecting its benefit and maintenance assessments and to place the six special taxing districts’ non-ad valorem assessments on the TRIM notices and for the tax collector to place them on the affected residents’ tax bill.

• Council members approved a resolution to set a date for a special election for Seat 4, which is temporarily occupied by Ruano who replaced former Councilmember Tony Lama until the county’s next regularly scheduled election. The special election is scheduled for Tuesday, August 28. 

So far, Ruano is the only candidate running for the seat. The qualifying period starts Monday, July 30 and ends Wednesday, August 8. 

• Council members rejected Cid’s idea to place a proposed charter amended on the ballot in November that would require future council members to attend at least one of the following trainings for Good Governance: ICMA, FLC University or the Institute for Elected Municipal Officials.

The Town Council will see new faces after the November election and Cid was calling for proper training, including becoming an effective public leader, for council members. 

Though his colleagues agreed, they indicated the issue shouldn’t be a charter amendment because it would mandate lawmakers to take classes or forfeit their seat.

They said the issue should be set by the council through an ordinance or resolution.

Cid was the only yes vote for his proposal. Council member Nelson Rodriguez was absent.

• Council members approved Cid’s request to amend the Town Council Meeting Rules and Procedure to include a town manager’s report on public safety at the council meetings. “It’s an effort to educate and bring awareness to the great job our first respondents do,” Cid said.



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