Miami Beach

Miami Beach commission approves DecoBike ads, to vote later on tentative tax rate

The Miami Beach Commission approved advertising on half the city’s bike share kiosks Wednesday in order to boost profits for its contractor, DecoBike.

By a 6 to 1 vote, with Mayor Matti Herrera Bower dissenting, the commission agreed to allow commercial ads on 40 DecoBike kiosks. Commissioners also agreed to start a new, 10-year contract with DecoBike that dates retroactively to January.

The vote followed about a year of discussions with DecoBike, which said just a few months after opening operations in March 2011 that it wasn’t coming close to meeting revenue expectations from bicycle basket advertisements.

The company opened up its books to the city’s finance department and showed that owners had invested $3.7 million into the business, and lost $387,000 in 2011. The company expected to have more riders in 2012 - there were 125,000 rides in March - but still lose $76,000 this year, according to the city.

“If you invest over $3 million you want to see your money back,” said co-owner Bonifacio Diaz.

Miami Beach commissioners are also expected to set a preliminary tax rate and vote on November ballot questions Wednesday.

Early budget estimates put the city’s 2013 operating budget, which pays for services such as public safety, at $253.8 million. The overall tax rate has been proposed at $6.369 per $1,000 of a home’s assessed value.

That rate is a decrease from last year’s tax rate, though higher than the city’s “roll back rate,” or the rate at which the city would collect the same amount of taxes as the current year.

Commissioners will decide whether to place proposals on the November ballot to require that voters:

Ballot questions and the preliminary tax rate, which is usually considered the ceiling for the upcoming year’s rate, will be discussed after 5 p.m.

Other issues on Wednesday’s agenda include possible discussions about the city’s $1 billion convention center district project, a fired police sergeant, the use of public surveillance cameras, and severance negotiations with ousted city manager Jorge Gonzalez.