North Miami - NMB

Council delays vote on new rate action committee, approves new MOCA board

MOCA, the Museum of Contemporary Art at 770 NE 125th St., North Miami.
MOCA, the Museum of Contemporary Art at 770 NE 125th St., North Miami. Miami Herald File

The North Miami City Council delayed a decision to create a new advisory committee and approved a new board of trustees for the city’s museum during its meeting on Tuesday.

The council voted 4-1 to hold off on the creation of a rate action committee intended to give recommendations on the city’s water and sewer rates. City staff had suggested the creation of the new board as a means of keeping the city’s process of setting the water and sewer rates transparent. The proposed board would contain 11 members appointed by the city council and would meet 10 times a year.

Council members were divided on the benefits the committee would provide and questioned the necessity of the multiple meetings.

“I don’t see the need in us appointing a bunch of residents to a committee, who are probably already serving on five other committees, to talk about rates to come back and tell us they would like them to go down,” said Councilman Scott Galvin, who voted against deferring the item.

“If you want to get public input, maybe you have some workshops.”

Budget director Arthur Sorey said that the committee also would assist in deciding how to offset about $250,000 that the city lost after the council voted to remove a second water meter rate for about 600 customers last December.

“Business owners will have a say, the residents will have a say, multifamily units will have a say and everybody will be at the table when decisions are being made,” Sorey said.

Mayor Smith Joseph argued that the council should trust the staff’s recommendation and give residents and business owners a chance for input through the committee.

“We need to address these issues and I think we would rob these people by standing here and telling them we cannot do anything,” Joseph said.

Vice Mayor Carol Keys noted the difficulties that other city committees have had with meeting quorum and having to cancel meetings.

“We can’t get our boards to meet with a quorum and if we think we’re going to get this group of 11 to meet 10 times, it’s not going to happen,” Keys said.

Also at the meeting, the city council approved a new board of trustees for the Museum of Contemporary Art. The board currently contains 17 members, but that number will eventually increase to 30 and will include appointments made by council members. The mayor also will serve as a non-voting member of the board.

“We wanted, this time, whatever is happening to MOCA to be known by the council at the highest level,” MOCA director Babacar M’Bow said.

The board contains members of a transitional board that was initially established as a steering committee last September but became a board in November as the city’s settlement with the previous board was finalized. Some members of the board include lobbyist Ron Book, developer Richard LeFrak and real estate broker Mary Ann Portell.

The requirements for board members include: attending at least five of the board’s nine scheduled meetings, participating on board committees and paying $10,000 in annual dues.