Miami-Dade Legislative Item
File Number: 091564
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File Number: 091564 File Type: Ordinance Status: Adopted
Version: 0 Reference: 09-72 Control: Board of County Commissioners
File Name: INCREASE SURCHARGE ON CIVIL & CRIMINAL TRAFFIC INFRACTIONS Introduced: 5/19/2009
Requester: NONE Cost: Final Action: 9/1/2009
Agenda Date: 9/1/2009 Agenda Item Number: 7E
Notes: Title: ORDINANCE RELATED TO THE COURTS; AMENDING SECTIONS 11-12, 11-13 AND 11-14 OF THE CODE OF MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA; INCREASING THE SURCHARGE ON CIVIL AND CRIMINAL TRAFFIC INFRACTIONS AND VIOLATIONS TO FUND COURT FACILITIES AND DEBT SERVICE THEREON; PROVIDING AN EXCEPTION FOR INDIGENTS RELATED TO THE COLLECTION OF COURT SURCHARGES; PROVIDING SEVERABILITY, INCLUSION IN THE CODE, AND AN EFFECTIVE DATE
Indexes: AMENDING CODE
  COURTS
Sponsors: Sally A. Heyman, Prime Sponsor
  Rebeca Sosa, Co-Sponsor
Sunset Provision: No Effective Date: Expiration Date:
Registered Lobbyist: None Listed


Legislative History

Acting Body Date Agenda Item Action Sent To Due Date Returned Pass/Fail

Board of County Commissioners 9/1/2009 7E Adopted P
REPORT: County Attorney Robert Cuevas read the foregoing proposed ordinance into the record. County Manager George Burgess responded to Commissioner Seijas’ inquiry regarding funding allocated to the Children’s Courthouse. He advised of an existing $15 surcharge to supplement filing fees and that an additional $15 surcharge was now being requested. This new surcharge would fund the required debt service for construction of additional floors necessary to house all agencies under one roof, said County Manager Burgess. He noted this dedicated revenue stream was necessary in order to not obligate the General Fund. Ms. Wendi Norris, Director, General Services Administration, said that construction documents were pending permits and the project would be placed for bid in the near future. County Attorney Cuevas advised Commissioner Seijas that the additional $15 surcharge was to pay principal and interest on the bonds for the construction of the Children’s Courthouse and other related expenses. County Manager Burgess responded to Commissioner Seijas that the additional bonds would not be a burden to taxpayers. He said that the additional revenue would be sufficient to pay the bond debt necessary to fully fund the courthouse without obligating the General Fund. County Attorney Cuevas responded to Commissioner Seijas’ request about criminal fines charged under Section 318.117. He said these fines were imposed upon any conviction, plea of nolo contendere or finding of guilt for a traffic infraction. Commissioner Seijas expressed concern that the burden would be on the community. She said she could not support imposing additional fines considering today’s economic condition. She noted the Children’s Courthouse should have been built many years ago when funding was available. Commissioner Heyman noted that both the Commission and the Dade Delegation supported the adoption of State Legislative Article 5 relating to capital improvement projects tied to fines and fees; and that its language protected bonds and funds committed to the construction of the Courthouse. As a result, a funding source was identified for the courthouse that would not require additional money from the tax base, she noted. Commissioner Heyman also noted the decision to build an all-inclusive facility to house the State Attorney, Public Defender and Guardian Ad-Litem offices contributed to the additional financial burden. Commissioner Heyman said that Chief Judge Joel Brown, the new Chief Judge for Miami-Dade County Circuit Court and former Chief Judge Joseph Farina were present at the previous Health, Public Safety and Intergovernmental Committee meeting and spoke about the $70 million shortfall. A request for additional funding that would remain in Miami-Dade County was a legislative priority supported by the Dade Delegation in last year’s session, she noted. Commissioner Heyman said that as a result of this legislation, the entire $15 assessment would remain exclusively in Miami-Dade County. Commissioner Heyman also noted language was included that stated those unable to pay would not be assessed this charge. She noted efforts would be introduced to sunshine this legislation once the building was constructed and the obligations paid. Commissioner Sorenson noted the need for this facility and suggested those who did not want to pay the fines should obey the traffic laws. She also suggested including a community service provision for the indigent who were unable to pay the additional fine. Commissioner Sosa noted her support for this proposed ordinance because 1) the State Legislature had realized that money generated in Miami-Dade County needed to remain in the County; 2) the funding would benefit a needed cause; and 3) the fees would not affect the indigent since they did not have cars and were not creating traffic problems. Commissioner Gimenez requested examples of “other costs related to the Children’s Courthouse” as indicated in the last paragraph of Section 11-12. Assistant County Attorney Jess McCarty noted this language referred to items such as equipment and furnishings and other items directly related to the facility. He said that the State Statute did not allow for any of the funding to be allocated to operational expenses. Commissioner Martinez pointed out that drivers’ registration and licensing fees had doubled in price, effective today (09/01). He said that many people, although indigent, drove cars and received food stamps. Commissioner Martinez noted the majority of traffic offenses were civil infractions, and that adding an additional $15 to the present $89.50 fee, currently assessed for civil infractions, was excessive. Commissioner Diaz said that the Children’s Courthouse had been a need of the community for a long time. He asked for clarification about the project’s history. Ms. Jennifer Glazer-Moon, Office of Strategic Business Management (OSBM) Director, explained that originally, the Children’s Courthouse project was fully funded. She noted that the State Attorney, Public Defender and Guardian Ad-Litem offices were to be housed in the newly constructed Overtown II Tower, which was located one block away from the Courthouse site. Ms. Glazer-Moon indicated that the State Attorney, Public Defender and the Chief Judge previously appeared before the Commission, expressing the desire that their offices be located within the Courthouse building. She noted the Commission adopted this request resulting in a project cost increase of approximately $70 million and anticipated that the project would be funded through future financing. The $15 surcharge was necessary in order to pay the debt service required to fund the construction costs, otherwise funding would need to be appropriated from the General Fund, said Ms. Glazer-Moon. Commissioner Diaz noted his support for the foregoing proposed ordinance, indicating he would rather assess traffic tickets than obligate the General Fund. In response to Commissioner Gimenez’ inquiry, Ms. Glazer-Moon responded that the Overtown II Tower was built to original specifications even though the State Attorney, Public Defender and the Guardian Ad-Litem offices would no longer be housed in that facility. She noted other County offices that were leasing office space would be relocated into this facility to save on rental expenses. Commissioner Gimenez asked Ms.Glazer-Moon to provide an analysis of the savings that would be realized by relocating other County offices from leased office space to the newly constructed Overtown II Tower. Ms. Glazer-Moon noted the savings realized by relocating leased offices to this facility should have no affect on the decision being voted upon today. She said the adoption of the $15 surcharge would allow $6.5 million to remain in the General Fund to be utilized for other needed services. There being no further questions or comments, the Commission proceeded to vote.

Health, Public Safety & Intergovernmental Cmte 7/16/2009 2C Forwarded with a favorable recommendation P
REPORT: Assistant County Attorney Gerald Sanchez read the foregoing proposed ordinance into the record and indicated that this was a public hearing. Chairwoman Heyman opened the public hearing on the foregoing proposed ordinance. Judge Joel Brown, the new Chief Judge for Miami-Dade County, 175 NW 1st Avenue, Miami, appeared before the Committee in support of the foregoing proposed ordinance. He noted he was accompanied by former Chief Judge Joseph Farina who would present the facts and figures on this much needed project. Judge Joseph Farina, 73 West Flagler Street, Miami, appeared before the Board and presented renderings of the new Children’s Courthouse. He noted the goal was to construct a green, smart, signature courthouse for the children and families of this community. Judge Farina mentioned that a partnership was established in 2000. Eighteen months before the partnership was formed he worked diligently with representatives of the Downtown Development Authority, the Department of Juvenile Justice, and the City of Miami to ensure that this project addressed their concerns and to acquire the funding and location for the Courthouse. Judge Farina said three issues evolved over the last nine years which these agencies had resolved together: 1) to create a revenue stream to fund the Courthouse; 2) determine who would occupy the new Courthouse; and 3) identify a suitable location for it. The Courthouse was originally funded with civil filing fees; however, these fees were redirected pursuant to Revision 7. This was resolved when the County and the Court created a surcharge to provide a revenue stream to issue bonds for the project. The second issue was resolved when the County Commission determined that the State Attorney, the Public Defender and the Guardian Ad Litem—through an expanded presence—would occupy the 14 story, 375,000 square foot courthouse, with 18 courtrooms. The third issue involving the location was resolved by this Commission dedicating the north parking lot, but that proposal was hindered by the prospect of the Marlins Baseball Stadium being relocated downtown. Commissioner Diaz and other members of this Commission decided that the Courthouse should remain downtown, said Judge Farina. The total project would cost 176 million dollars of which, 104 million dollars were already funded, leaving a shortfall of approximately 72 million dollars, said Judge Farina. He indicated that the purpose of today’s ordinance was to add a $15 surcharge to traffic tickets and other criminal matters so that the revenue stream could provide additional bonding capacity to close the 72 million dollar funding gap and this Commission would not have to find other funding sources. Chairwoman Heyman commended Assistant County Attorney Jess McCarty for his leadership in maintaining the Courthouse Project as a priority. She noted this project was unique because all the revenue generated from the additional surcharge remains within the County. One caveat in the language, the Chairwoman noted, was that members of this Commission worked with the Public Defender’s Office and others to opt out of indigent care. Judge Farina noted that the judges would access the surcharge and the collection of debt would be evaluated. Judge Farina acknowledged Ms. Wendi Norris, Director, General Services Administration (GSA); Mr. Jose Perez, GSA Division Director, Design and Construction Services; and Mr. Humberto Conteras, GSA Project Management Manager, for their role in this joint project. He mentioned that the adoption of the surcharge was a County legislative priority in Tallahassee and noted the support received from Commissioner Sosa. Commissioner Sosa noted the entire Tallahassee team joined forces in order to move this item through the Legislature. Judge Farina responded to Commissioner Rolle’s inquiry regarding the actions being taken to close the 72 million dollar revenue shortfall. He noted the 6.2 million dollar revenue stream would be closely monitored and would be used to obtain additional bonds that would be used to cover the shortfall. Hearing no other persons wishing to speak on this matter, the public hearing was closed and there being no further questions or comments the Committee proceeded to vote on the foregoing proposed ordinance.

Board of County Commissioners 6/2/2009 Tentatively scheduled for a public hearing Health, Public Safety & Human Services Committee 7/16/2009

Board of County Commissioners 6/2/2009 4D Adopted on first reading 7/16/2009 P
REPORT: The Board adopted the foregoing proposed ordinance on first reading and scheduled the public hearing before the July 16, 2009, Health, Public Safety and Ingergovernmental Affairs Committee at 2:00 p.m.

County Attorney 5/19/2009 Referred Health, Public Safety & Intergovernmental Cmte 7/16/2009

County Attorney 5/19/2009 Assigned Jess M. McCarty

Legislative Text


TITLE
ORDINANCE RELATED TO THE COURTS; AMENDING SECTIONS 11-12, 11-13 AND 11-14 OF THE CODE OF MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA; INCREASING THE SURCHARGE ON CIVIL AND CRIMINAL TRAFFIC INFRACTIONS AND VIOLATIONS TO FUND COURT FACILITIES AND DEBT SERVICE THEREON; PROVIDING AN EXCEPTION FOR INDIGENTS RELATED TO THE COLLECTION OF COURT SURCHARGES; PROVIDING SEVERABILITY, INCLUSION IN THE CODE, AND AN EFFECTIVE DATE

BODY
BE IT ORDAINED BY THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA:
Section 1. Section 11 of the Code of Miami-Dade County, Florida, is hereby amended to read as follows:1
Chapter 11
COURTS

* * *

ARTICLE I.

IN GENERAL

* * *



Sec. 11-12. Additional surcharge for court facilities.
In addition to any other fine, penalty, or cost imposed by any other provision of law, a [[fifteen]] >>thirty<< dollar [[($15.00)]] >>($30.00)<< surcharge is hereby imposed upon any conviction or finding of guilt, regardless of whether adjudication is withheld, on each civil traffic infraction referenced in section 318.14, Florida Statutes, as amended from time to time, and upon any conviction, plea of nolo contendere or finding of guilt, regardless of whether adjudication is withheld, on each criminal traffic violation referenced in section 318.17, Florida Statutes, as amended from time to time. The court shall not waive this surcharge. The Clerk of the Court shall collect the [[fifteen]] >>thirty<< dollar [[($15.00)]] >>($30.00)<< surcharge established in this section and shall remit it to Miami-Dade County. All proceeds from this surcharge shall be used to fund state court facilities as required by general law. The funding of state court facilities includes but is not limited to payment of debt service on any bonds issued to finance state court facilities. >>It is the intent of the Board that $15.00 of the $30.00 surcharge be used to pay principal and interest on bonds for the Children’s Courthouse and other costs related to the Children’s Courthouse.<<
Sec. 11-13. Additional surcharge in criminal proceedings.

In addition to any other fine, penalty, or cost imposed by any other provision of law, an eighty-five dollar ($85.00) surcharge is hereby imposed upon any conviction, plea of nolo contendere or finding of guilt, regardless of whether adjudication is withheld, for each felony, misdemeanor, or criminal traffic offense. The court shall not waive this court cost. The Clerk of the Court shall collect>>, unless there has been a determination of indigency,<< the eighty-five dollar ($85.00) surcharge established in this section and shall remit it to Miami-Dade County.

Sec. 11-14. Additional civil and criminal traffic infraction surcharge.

In addition to any other fine, penalty, or cost imposed by any other provision of law, a fifteen dollar ($15.00) surcharge is hereby imposed upon any conviction, plea of nolo contendere, or finding of guilt, regardless of whether adjudication is withheld, on each civil traffic infraction referenced in section 318.14, Florida Statutes, as amended from time to time, and upon any conviction, plea of nolo contendere or finding of guilt, regardless of whether adjudication is withheld, on each criminal traffic violation referenced in section 318.17, Florida Statutes, as amended from time to time. The court shall not waive this surcharge. The Clerk of the Court shall collect>>, unless there has been a determination of indigency,<< the fifteen dollar ($15.00) surcharge established in this section and shall remit it to Miami-Dade County.

Section 2. If any section, subsection, sentence, clause or provision of this ordinance is held invalid, the remainder of this ordinance shall not be affected by such invalidity.
Section 3. It is the intention of the Board of County Commissioners, and it is hereby ordained that the provisions of this ordinance, including any sunset provision, shall become and be made a part of the Code of Miami-Dade County, Florida. The sections of this ordinance may be renumbered or relettered to accomplish such intention, and the word "ordinance" may be changed to "section," "article," or other appropriate word.
Section 4. This ordinance shall become effective July 1, 2009 contingent upon the Governor signing SB 2108 into law and unless vetoed by the Mayor, and if vetoed, shall become effective only upon an override by this Board.

1 Words stricken through and/or [[double bracketed]] shall be deleted. Words underscored and/or >>double arrowed<< constitute the amendment proposed. Remaining provisions are now in effect and remain unchanged.
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