My family and I have lived and worked in Northeast Miami-Dade County for 36 years. We include the so called named areas of The Château, Coventry, Highland Lakes, Oak Forest, Oak Hammock, Ojus, Presidential Estates, Skylake, Sunswept, etc. We are 18,000 strong. Many things have changed over these years — guard gates, increased home invasions, common areas in need of repair, overcrowded roads, expanding development.
As a member of the budget committee of CPAs and lawyers studying a possible new city in the area, I am tired of hearing from self-proclaimed skeptics against incorporation claiming that things are fine the way they are. They are not. The status quo is no longer acceptable.
Contrary to these cynics, those who favor becoming our own city, have no interest in personal gain. We are members of this community who believe that we can do better by controlling our own community.
Our community is a donor community. We pay the county approximately $8.4 million in Unincorporated Municipal Service Area (UMSA) taxes but get only $7.2 million back. The rest, $1.2 million, goes to other communities. The UMSA tax is less than 10 percent of our entire tax bill.
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In our proposed city, we would keep all the UMSA tax money. Becoming a city, does not add a layer of government; it replaces control by Miami-Dade County with local control.
An average single family homeowner would continue to pay a UMSA tax of $488 while an average condominium homeowner would continue to pay $52.
Our budget committee, along with Miami-Dade officials, analyzed the budget for the proposed city. The unanimous conclusion was that our community could financially support itself. A tax increase was not needed.
Doubters insist our taxes will go up because there’s not enough commercial property to produce revenue. In fact, almost 25 percent of our revenues would come from commercial properties which include the Shops at Skylake Mall.
The cynics continue to use scare tactics. The latest fiction is that the proposed city intends to pay its attorney $250,000. Such amount is for the entire legal department, not for a single individual, an amount far less than many municipalities.
To the skeptics: Let us vote.
Alan R. Hecht, Highland Lakes
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