Miami-Dade County

Sweetwater voters approve land sale

Sweetwater voters agreed? Tuesday to sell vacant land on the south side of 17th Street near 108th Ave. in order to pay off debts.
Sweetwater voters agreed? Tuesday to sell vacant land on the south side of 17th Street near 108th Ave. in order to pay off debts. emichot@miamiherald.com

Sweetwater voters greenlighted the sale of public land near the Dolphin Mall on Tuesday in order to help the tiny west Miami-Dade city dig itself out of a financial crisis.

The measure, which passed by a 54-to-46 margin, allows the city to sell 2.15 acres on Northwest 17th Street to Hollywood-based REMS Group for $2.842 million. The city purchased the property four years ago for $950,000 with plans to build a new police station.

Instead, city commissioners decided to flip the land for a profit last year as the city’s finances crumbled and Mayor Orlando Lopez unsuccessfully petitioned the state to declare Sweetwater in a state of “financial emergency.” Sale proceeds will be used to pay down a $1.6 million Regions Bank line of credit, and some $650,000 in bond proceeds used to purchase the property in the first place.

The city’s problems aren’t over with the sale of land, though. Commissioners recently set a property tax cap for next year at a rate about 50 percent higher in order to help pay the city’s bills and staffing expenses.

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