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North Miami Beach hopes to collect more water, waste fees with new billing

Residents of North Miami Beach may have stormwater and solid waste fees placed on their county property tax bill instead of their quarterly water bill in the upcoming fiscal year.

In a 4-2 decision Nov. 20, the council approved a resolution that allows the city manager’s office to take the first steps in collaborating with the county on changing the billing process.

Councilwoman Phyllis Smith was not present for the vote.

By potentially changing the method of collection, the city expects to get close to all of its revenue due.

“We will ultimately get 100 percent of the fees,” said City Manager Roslyn B. Weisblum. “When we bill it on the water bill we collect less than 90 percent.”

That’s because North Miami Beach is expected to collect substantially all of its assessments, plus interest and penalties after the county sells tax certificates for assessments that remain unpaid at June 1, Janette Smith, the city’s finance director, said in an email.

“This is a no-brainer,” Mayor George Vallejo said. “This is sound budgeting, sound policy for the city. I am 100 percent in favor of this.”

By adding the services to the property tax bill, Weisblum also anticipates the billing process to become more efficient.

The resolution had originally failed 3-3; however, Vice Mayor Barbara Kramer made a motion to reconsider later in the meeting.

“I realized it was a more efficient way to collect our fees,” said Kramer, in an interview following the meeting.

Kramer had originally voted against resolution.

Councilwoman Beth E. Spiegel and Councilman Frantz Pierre voted against the measure both times.

Spiegel raised concerns during the meeting about the resolution such as the financial impact it would have on the city, adding that she wanted more information before making a decision.

Since the process is in its initial stages, the city does not yet have final numbers on how the potential change will affect the city financially but expect there to be a saving,, Weisblum said.

“We need to work out the specifics so it’s least impact to everyone and an easy transition,” Weisblum said in an interview following the meeting.

In other business:

Larry Gomer was sworn in as the police chief of the North Miami Beach Police Department during the Nov. 20 meeting.

Gomer, who has been with the department for more than 25 years, has been acting as the interim chief since July 2011.

Gomer was sworn into his new positions in front of a room filled with family, friends, residents and law enforcement from his department and other local agencies.

After the swearing in Gomer addressed the residents, saying he and everyone in his department will continue their commitment to serve and protect.

“There have been some bumps in the road recently but the men and women of this department never never lost their desire to protect and serve this community,” he said.

Gomer is a South Florida native and has been living in North Miami Beach since he was 3 months old.

He is a North Miami Beach Senior High School graduate and hold a degree in criminal justice from Florida State University.

He is also a 2011 graduate of the FBI National Academy.