The 20-member task force, which has rarely had enough members present at a meeting to reach the two-thirds threshold, has yet to take a final vote on its proposals — or even an initial vote on a late batch of ideas, including two relating to the governance of cash-strapped Jackson.
One proposal would create a seven-member trust with sole responsibility to set the public health system’s budget. The county commission now has the final say over the budget. Though commissioners would appoint the inaugural board, trust members would appoint their own replacements, keeping commission politics out of the process.
Another proposal would create a board of seven to nine members, with at least one physician, with commissioners still having a vote over Jackson’s budget — much like the existing but temporary Jackson financial recovery board.The task force has yet to vote on other proposals, including prohibiting outside employment for commissioners and giving oversight responsibilities to the clerk of the courts any time the mayor has a conflict of interest in a procurement bid.
The group will take up the pending measures at a meeting Wednesday an hour before the public hearing.
The group has already given tentative approval to a dozen additional charter amendments, with some drawing more controversy than others.
The closest vote — 7-5 — came in favor of restricting the mayor’s power so that he is unable to veto commission decisions resolving collective bargaining impasses. Earlier this year, Mayor Carlos Gimenez vetoed commissioners when they shot down his plan to impose an additional concession on unionized employees. Without enough votes to override the veto, commissioners ultimately approved a compromise concession.
Two of the county’s largest unions, the Police Benevolent Association and the Government Supervisors Association of Florida OPEIU Local 100, which represents professional employees and supervisors, urged the task force to take away the mayor’s veto power in the future because the mayor, like the unions, is a party to the impasse.
The proposal was put forth by former Coral Gables Mayor Don Slesnick, a task force member and labor lawyer who represented the GSAF union during the impasse.
No proposal, however, has attracted more attention than the one to sidestep commissioners to create new cities.
Former Miami-Dade School Board member Evelyn Greer, a task force member and incorporation proponent, drafted the plan to bring new cities to a vote after citizens collect enough petitions to do so — without commission approval, as required now.
She said she pushed her proposal because commissioners have been reluctant to allow cityhood efforts to move forward. Earlier this year, commissioners lifted a nearly five-year ban on the creation of new cities.
When commissioners put the breaks on incorporation, “they failed us,” said task force member Joe Arriola, a former Miami city manager who agreed with Greer’s proposal.
But others on the board and several residents, particularly from the unincorporated neighborhood of the Falls, questioned leaving commissioners out of the decision.
“There has to be a referee at some point,” task force member Terry Murphy, a former Seijas aide, said at a recent meeting. “The governing body still has to play a role in this.”
Among the task force’s other proposals:
• Raising commissioners’ salaries beginning in 2016 to the county’s median income — currently about $43,605, according to the U.S. Census — from $6,000, even though task-force members admitted the idea is unlikely to pass muster with voters, who have rejected similar hikes 13 times in five decades;
• Imposing two, four-year term limits for commissioners, though the measure is redundant. Commissioners have already agreed to place that question on the November ballot;
• Requiring two thirds of the commission to sign off on expanding the Urban Development Boundary that limits growth on the county’s southern and western fringes. That requirement is already set by ordinance; the previous task force, and Mayor Gimenez, had endorsed setting a three-fourths majority in the charter;
• Requiring the mayor to transfer the functions of the “sheriff” — the head of the county’s law enforcement — to the police department director. Under the existing charter, the mayor does, but is not obligated to, delegate those powers to the police director, meaning the mayor could keep those powers for himself.