Biscayne Park commissioners voted Tuesday to pursue annexation of an area that could bring in an additional $270,000 in much-needed revenue for the village.
At a packed Village Commission meeting, residents said they want to move the village along in the annexation process.
“This is a fiscal necessity,” resident Milton Hunter said. “We are past the time to address this. We cannot maintain what we are doing and hope things will get better.”
The village’s tax rate is $9.70 per $1,000 in taxable home value, the highest in the county and close to the state limit of $10. Officials are looking to annexation as a way to get new revenue.
Although some residents felt that the issue should be put to a vote, others didn’t feel a vote was necessary because the discussion has been going on for more than two years; they were looking to this commission to make a decision halted by former members who were staunch opponents to annexation.
“I don’t think we need to put this to a vote now. These areas are working warehouses and the two rental areas are well administered. This is a new commission. We can make the decision,” resident Jorge Marinoni said.
Commissioners had two areas to vote on: a 10.9-acre area that includes an industrial section and the AltaMira rental community, which could add $65,000 in revenues; and a 43.5-acre area that includes the Baywinds rental community along with stores like CVS Pharmacy, Pollo Tropical and Quiznos.
Village officials say if they annex the larger area, then residents of that area would get to vote; but the smaller area might not get a vote under current Miami-Dade County rules.
Commissioner Bob Anderson was concerned that voters would reject annexation, saying he would rather take a chance with the smaller area than have to go through the voting process with the larger area. Meanwhile, Vice Mayor Barbara Watts called annexing the small area unethical and said it would be unfair for the village to impose its taxes on residents there just so the village could maintain its way of life.
Mayor David Coviello and Commissioners Fred Jonas, and Roxanna Ross met with enthusiastic applause as they voted in favor of the annexation while Watts and Anderson opposed the move.
“At this point we need a substantial revenue source to let this village continue to operate,” Coviello said.
City Manager Heidi Shafran will now apply to Miami-Dade County to annex the area. The approximate borders will be the FEC Railway on the west, Northeast 121st Street on the north, Biscayne Boulevard on the east, and on the South by 119th Street, but between 16th Avenue and Biscayne Boulevard, the southern border will extend to where 16th and Biscayne intersect near 116th Street. After the application is submitted, the county will determine how and when to proceed with further steps, including the referendum of residents of the annexation area on whether they want to be annexed. The vote will cost the village approximately $3,500.
“The village is very hopeful with this application. It gives the businesses and residents of the annexation area an opportunity to receive our municipal services which include award winning police operations,” Shafran said.
In other news, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) announced it would begin a roadway project along Northeast Sixth Avenue from 110th Terrace to 123rd Street. Construction is scheduled to begin in February 2015 and includes repaving and restriping the road; replacing signs, pedestrian ramps and signals; and installing shared lane markings and signs for bicyclists.
According to FDOT, the majority of the work will be done during the day but done in sections to minimize effects on traffic. Residents however were concerned the project would damage other roads within the village. If anyone has questions about this project they may contact the FDOT at 305-470-5349.
The next commission meeting will be at 7 p.m., March 4 at the Ed Burke Recreation Center, 11400 NE Ninth Court.