(Miami-Dade County, FL) -- Today, Miami-Dade County Commissioners have, on their first reading, adopted an ordinance sponsored by Commissioner Javier D. Souto that would amend the Miami-Dade County Code to mandate public meetings on proposed amendments to the Miami-Dade Home Rule Charter.
In 1994, the Commission passed a resolution (R-1018-94) also sponsored by Souto requiring six public hearings throughout Miami-Dade whenever the County increased or created a tax or fee. This ordinance, if passed on final reading, would extend the same concept for the County to hold the same number of public hearings when there is any resolution calling an election on a proposed Home Rule Charter amendment. Such public meetings would be held prior to committee review or adoption of the resolution, if committee review is waived or not required.
If the Clerk of the Circuit Court approves an initiative petition from a citizen or a group to amend the Home Rule Charter, the Mayor's office would have to make County-owned public facilities, such as public libraries or park facilities, available to the initiative petition proposers, at no cost, so that six public meetings can be conducted regarding the proposed initiative. Meetings would need to be scheduled within 60 days after the date the Clerk approves the initiative to form.
All public meetings would be held at locations and times which are accessible and convenient to the majority of County residents and allow for maximum participation by geographic and ethnic communities within Miami-Dade County. In addition, the meetings would need to be appropriately advertised in print advertisements in newspapers of general circulation and community-based periodicals.
"There is even more reason to receive public input on proposed amendments to the Home Rule Charter since it is in essence our local Constitution," said Commissioner Souto. "As we have seen in recent town hall meetings regarding the amendments on the May 24th ballot, the people want to be heard and understand how changes to the Charter will affect them."
In a similar proposed ordinance, Commissioner Souto also requested that the mandated public meetings regarding County taxes and fees in his original 1994 resolution be included in the County Code. According to Commissioner Souto, by writing these meetings into the Code permanently, it will assure taxpayers that future mayors and administrations will continue to comply with this law. This ordinance also passed first reading.
Both items are tentatively scheduled for a public hearing on June 14, 2011 during the Internal Management and Fiscal Responsibility Committee meeting. For more information, please contact Commissioner Souto's office at 305-222-2116.