The city of Doral has hired a team to analyze the economic impact of the Miss Universe pageant.
Vice Mayor Sandra Ruiz proposed the measure Tuesday morning. The vote was 4-1, with all City Council members voting for it except Councilwoman Christi Fraga.
The city committed to invest no more than $25,000 on an impact study conducted by J. Antonio Villamil of The Washington Economics Group. Ruiz and Mayor Luigi Boria have expressed interest in bringing the pageant to Doral again next year.
Fraga called the move “rushed,” adding that she is “not comfortable with supporting this” because not enough information was given to the council before the meeting.
“What data will be used to analyze all this? What will the impact study show?” Fraga said. “I believe this study should be done, but not at the very end. It should have been done preliminarily and at the end. This seems like a rushed effort to justify a certain cost that has already occurred.”
Fraga was referring to the $2.5million that the city committed to in September to host the current Miss Universe pageant.
“This is not a rushed effort,” Ruiz said. “And I love the fact that it’s being paid for by the city, so that nobody can later say that the study is slanted. This is a consultant that has an area of expertise, above many. I trust Mr. Villamil’s analysis completely. To even hint that he would slant any report would not be appropriate.”
Councilwoman Ana Maria Rodriguez agreed.
The council then asked city staff to find out what the price range would be. Villamil was not present, but planning and zoning staff told council members that the city had been given several package rates, with the most “intense proposal being $25,000.”
Fraga, Rodriguez and Councilman Pete Cabrera said they had no idea that the firm had been in talks with the city about prices.
“Did we follow due process?” asked Mayor Boria.
City Attorney Dan Espino interjected, saying that the city charter allows for soliciting, “just to get a good base line.” He noted that the process was “appropriate.”
Cabrera agreed to support the study, but said the prices should have been provided to council members before the meeting and included in their informational packets.
The motion to hire The Washington Economics Group, not exceeding $25,000, was made by Ruiz and seconded by Cabrera. It was supported by Boria and Rodriguez, with Fraga dissenting.
“We want to have measures of how our dollars impacted and benefited the city,” Ruiz said. “It’s a good way to show the city how we are spending the money.”