Miami Beach Update and Thoughts About the November 5th Ballot Questions

 

Dear Friends,

I cannot believe that it has been almost two years since you elected me back into office as your Miami Beach Commissioner. I am thankful to represent us in this City that we all love. I also strive to make judicious decisions for us and practice good governance.  According to the United Nations, good governance is measured by the eight factors of Participation, Rule of Law, Transparency, Responsiveness, Consensus Oriented, Equity and Inclusiveness, Effectiveness and Efficiency, and Accountability. I keep all of these factors in my mind and heart when making decisions for our city. 

We had a jam-packed October Commission agenda and here are some of the highlights of the meeting.

I am pleased to announce that we appointed Joseph Centorino as Inspector General for the City.  After my 2017 election, the first agenda item that I successfully sponsored was a whistleblower ordinance. I wanted to make sure employees felt safe reporting anything that they felt was wrong with the City.  I am determined to ensure that our government is as transparent as possible. This is why I referred an item from the Commission to the Finance Committee to start a review of all city departments for justification of staffing and efficiency of operation.  At the suggestion of Commissioner Samuelian, my referral was also amended to refer this item to the newly created Inspector General’s office for simultaneous review. 

The Commission also discussed zoning to allow for hotels to be built on Lincoln Road.

The agenda item was about creating development incentives that would allow hotels to be built on certain properties between Drexel Avenue and Lennox on Lincoln Road with more height and without a parking impact fee. While this ordinance passed second reading, I championed both the creation of a 500 square foot arts space in each and every one of them along with requiring funding to program those art spaces. I also advocated for a cap of no more than 500 rooms in total so that we can take a measured approach as to how hotel usage impacts Lincoln Road. I am pleased to say that all of these good governance additions to the ordinance were passed unanimously by the City Commission and are part of the ordinance.

Many of you reached out with concerns about two proposed items which would have reduced notice requirements to residents of land use board meetings from 30 days to 15 days and another proposal to exempt certain pre-1942 homes from design review and allow administrative review. Both controversial items were withdrawn by the sponsor and did not move forward.

Many of you have already received your absentee ballot and early voting is taking place in the City of Miami Beach. I have endorsed Kristen Rosen Gonzalez for Miami Beach Commissioner Group 4 and encourage you to help return Kristen to office. 

Lastly, please join me at my Power walk which will be held on Tuesday, October 29, 2019, at 6 pm. We are partnering with H3, a cancer education non-profit, in honor of October Breast Cancer Awareness month. Join us at Collins Ave and 29th Street by the beach walk! See the details below.

Your friend,

Michael

P.S. – Happy 70th Birthday to my beautiful mom, Sandra Page Millard! I love you very much! 

Ballot Questions

Many of you have reached out to me regarding the November 5th ballot questions, so here is my take on the 6 ballot questions: 

1) Increasing Mayor’s Term and Changing Mayor’s Term Limit- I believe this is unnecessary and will dilute voter turnout in years the Mayor’s race would not be on the ballot and gives the voters less opportunity to weigh in on how the Mayor is doing to only once every four years. I will be voting NO on this. 

2) Amend City Charter to Increase Annual Compensation of Mayor and City Commissioners- Since 1966, the City Charter has established a $6,000 annual compensation for each City Commissioner and a $10,000 annual compensation for the Mayor. Effective with the City’s November 2021 General Election, should Charter Section 2.02 be amended to increase each Commissioner’s annual compensation to $45,381 and the Mayor’s annual compensation to $75,636, said compensations to be increased annually based upon the Consumer Price Index, but not to exceed three percent per year? The role of mayor and commissioner has increased dramatically since the salaries were established at the current amounts back in 1966 so I will be voting YES on this. The workload is far above what it was in 1966 before email and social media came into play and our city grew to its present financial size. By doing so, it would facilitate qualified working-class people who could not otherwise do so, be able to seek elected office. It would not apply until after November 2021 so I would not personally receive it.

3) Amending Procedures for Filling of Vacancies in City Commission- This is to establish procedures for the filling of vacancies in the city commission by allowing sooner election dates. Currently, the City Commission must wait to schedule a special election to fill the position until after the vacancy takes place. As such, we can’t really have the election at a logical time when other elections are occurring. This ballot question passed unanimously and would allow more flexibility in holding special elections to fill vacancies on the commission when they occur. I will be voting YES on this. 

4) The naming of the main Convention Center Park/P-Lot as “Pride Park”- Asking whether the main convention center park/p-lot (located generally west of Convention Center Drive, east of Meridian Avenue, and between 18th and 19th streets) shall be named “Pride Park”? Since the City of Miami Beach is looking to re-name this new park next to City Hall it requires a vote of the residents. I think Pride Park has a nice ring to it. What do you think?

5) An ordinance authorizing new floor area within the interior of historic buildings for adaptive reuse- Asking whether the city commission shall adopt an ordinance authorizing the use of new floor area within historic buildings for the adaptive reuse of such buildings. This is a limited ordinance that would apply to older historic theater-type buildings with large open spaces such as 1235 Washington Avenue to create new floors to market those buildings for other uses. While I voted against placing this question on the ballot, I do recognize that these buildings are not able to market themselves competitively now that large nightclubs are not as popular as they used to be. This would allow them to change those large open spaces into different floors and levels.

6) Floor area ratio increase for Office Uses along Washington Avenue and Alton Road- Adopt an ordinance increasing the maximum floor area ratio to 2.0 for buildings in the cd-2 district, along Washington Avenue and Alton Road for office uses. This is currently allowed for residential and hotel uses and would allow the same increase in floor area ratio for office uses. While I like the idea of creating office buildings along Washington Avenue, I am not as keen about Alton Road. I voted yes to allow this question to be placed on the ballot but encourage you to do your due diligence here and vote your conscience.

Save the Dates

Upcoming Important City Commission Meetings and Other Meetings

I hope to see you at some of these upcoming meetings.

Oct. 23 – Neighborhoods/Community Affairs Committee

Oct. 25 – Finance & Citywide Projects Committee Meeting

Oct 30 – Land Use & Development Committee Meeting

Oct. 30 – October Commission Presentation and Awards Meeting

Nov. 12 – November Election-Related Commission Meeting

Tito Puentes, Rosalia Puentes , Commissioner Michael Gongóra, and Melina Almodovar at the Tito Puentes Concert in Collins Park

Emilio Estefan, Commissioner Góngora, Liliam Lopez at the Unveiling of the Hall of Fame Display at the Miami Beach Convention Center

Commissioner Góngora and Gloria Estefan at the Unveiling of the Hall of Fame Display at the Miami Beach Convention Center

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

CONDO CORNER

How Does Your Collections Policy Stack Up?

By Candace C. Solis

The collection of your community’s assessments is critical to maintaining a steady flow of income to support the association’s maintenance responsibilities and maintain the association’s overall fiscal health. Yet with the more urgent day-to-day demands on property managers and volunteer board members, collections can often be neglected or completely overlooked.

On day one, new board members should evaluate the association’s accounts receivable aging report, its internal collections policy, and the governing documents. If delinquencies are rampant, your collections policy may be inconsistently applied. If you’ve recently decided to crack down on delinquencies, be sure to adopt a clear collections policy and share that collections policy with owners prior to implementation. You’ll want to make sure your collections strategy also includes a plan to combat recidivism, including acceleration or shortening the time for turnover of an account to collections. You’ll want to appoint either one person or a team to oversee collections, including the timing of sending late letters and turnover of accounts to your collections attorney. This person or representative of the team should provide a substantive report at each board meeting detailing their efforts.

Let’s talk about turnover. So, you’ve sent your courtesy letters, and the owner has made no effort to pay the outstanding balance. Your next step is turnover to your collections attorney, right? Not necessarily. Turnover to a collections attorney should only occur if the board has a policy in place stating when and under what parameters an account would be turned over for collections to ensure all owners similarly situated are receiving the same treatment. Accounts can also be turned over on a case-by-case basis, but this can lead to inconsistent application of your collections policy and should be avoided.

The foundation of your collections attorney’s case will be the ledger provided. It should start with a zero balance so the attorney can be sure that you have calculated interest correctly and all payments have been correctly applied. While open balance ledgers can be helpful to the board, your collections attorney will want a ledger that itemizes the charges and credits in chronological order. Beginning balances will need to be supplemented with older ledgers. The posting date of each charge should reflect the due date and not the date the assessment or charge was levied.

Be clear about your goals. Your collections attorney has several tools available to compel your owners’ compliance, but there is no one-size-fits-all approach. The more you know about your delinquent owners, the better your strategy session with your collections attorney.

COMMUNITY EVENTS

 




 

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