Other changes included capping the additional $85 charged to drivers who unsuccessfully contest their tickets, and reviewing that penalty, which will fund the appeals board operations, every year in the city’s budget.
Commissioner Spence-Jones, the swing vote who on July 11 delayed the appeals board decision to give Carollo and Suarez more time to digest the information, lamented that her colleagues did not back Thursday’s decision unanimously.
“The ugly side of this has caused us to fight amongst each other on this dais, which I hate,” she said. But on the cameras, she added, “The good of this totally outweighs the bad.”
Like two weeks ago, it was primarily proponents of the traffic cameras who filled the City Hall commission chambers Thursday, though no public hearing was held. Most of the supporters came from the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, which receives $3 out of every $158 ticket fine. Another $10 goes to Florida hospital trauma centers.
On the property-tax rate issue, commissioners were also divided, with Sarnoff calling for a vote to raise the rate enough to hire at least 100 new police officers, and Suarez arguing the proposed rate was actually an increase, not a decrease.
In the end, commissioners passed the proposed rate of $8.43 for every $1,000 of property value, a slight decrease that will save $8 for the owner of a $200,000 property that does not have a homestead exemption. Carollo, Gort and Spence-Jones voted in favor, while Sarnoff and Suarez voted against.
Sarnoff, who has spent the past year railing to hire more cops, suggested raising the rate to collect an additional $5 million, enough for raises for officers and to reinstitute a program in which the city pays for an officer to get a bachelor’s degree. He found no support on the dais.
Notably absent Thursday was City Manager Johnny Martinez, who is still recovering from a stroke he suffered two weeks ago. In his place for now is Budget Director Daniel Alfonso. The mayor had said earlier he expected Martinez to return by this week, but doctors felt he needed more recovery time.
Miami Herald staff writers Howard Cohen and Joey Flechas contributed to this report.