Commissioners to decide whether libraries belong at Miami-Dade parks

07/01/2014 12:35 PM

07/01/2014 12:36 PM

Libraries could move one step closer to joining Miami-Dade parks Tuesday as county commissioners decide whether to pursue a charter amendment allowing the combination.

A proposal backed by Commissioner Esteban “Steve” Bovo would alter protections in the county charter that limits alternate uses of park facilities. The proposed amendment would allow Miami-Dade to put libraries in parks’ recreational centers, provided no buildings are added or expanded.

Bovo has touted the plan as a way to bring more traffic to under-used recreational centers while freeing some libraries in commercial locations from paying market rent. Critics are criticizing the plan as endangering the county’s commitment to preserving green space at parks.

Voters would have the ultimate say, since the proposed charter change would need to be approved as a binding ballot issue in November. At their regular bimonthly meeting, commissioners are slated to vote on whether to send the proposed amendment to voters.

Also on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting at the Stephen P. Clark Government Center:

•  Eliminating two bus routes that serve two of Miami’s poorest neighborhoods. Miami-Dade would save about $360,000 a year under a plan to end two routes out of Liberty City and Overtown that transit officials say aren’t popular enough to meet ridership standards.

Route 46, known as the Liberty City Connection, runs from NW 15th Avenue to NW 37th Avenue. Route 243, known as the Seaport Connection, links Overtown with PortMiami. Both are listed as only running during rush hours on weekdays, and transit officials said other routes can accommodate passengers riding 46 and 243.

Transit officials said that while the department wants at least 15 passengers to use a route each hour, No. 46 attracts only 10.3 per hour and No. 243 gets 11.8.

•  Making it harder for commissioners to hold “straw polls” on tax increases. Another proposal by Bovo would require a 2/3 vote by the 13-member county commission to send voters non-binding resolutions on property-tax increases.

In 2012, commissioners approved a so-called “straw poll” on whether voters want a special property tax dedicated to animal services. Known as the Pets’ Trust, it passed handily but commissioners later balked at imposing a new tax.

Mayor Carlos Gimenez floated a similar plan this year by submitted a straw poll in August asking voters to weigh in on higher taxes for libraries, parks and cultural institutions. That plan fizzled for lack of commission support.

Currently, a majority vote by commissioners is required to send a non-binding resolution to voters.

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