Government of Miami-Dade County
||The lead section of this article may need to be rewritten. (September 2012)|
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Since its formation in 1957, Miami-Dade County has had a two-tier system of government. Under this system, Miami-Dade comprises a large unincorporated area and 35 incorporated areas or municipalities. Each municipality has its own government and provides such city-type services as police and zoning protection.
State voters amended the State of Florida’s Constitution in 1956 to allow for a Home Rule Charter. Dade County was granted the power to create commission districts, pass ordinances, create penalties, levy and collect taxes to support a centralized metropolitan form of government. The Board of County Commissioners may create municipalities, special taxing districts and other boards or authorities as needed. The Home Rule Charter for Miami-Dade County was adopted by referendum on May 21, 1957.
On November 13, 1997 voters changed the name of the county from Dade to Miami-Dade to acknowledge the international name recognition of Miami.
Unlike a consolidated city-county, where the city and county governments merge into a single entity, these two entities remain separate. Instead there are two "tiers", or levels, of government: city and county. There are 35 municipalities in the county, the City of Miami being the largest.
Cities are the "lower tier" of local government, providing police and fire protection, zoning and code enforcement, and other typical city services within their jurisdiction. These services are paid for by city taxes. The County is the "upper tier", and it provides services of a metropolitan nature, such as emergency management, airport and seaport operations, public housing and health care services, transportation, environmental services, solid waste disposal etc. These are funded by county taxes, which are assessed on all incorporated and unincorporated areas.
Of the county's 2.2 million total residents (as of 2000), approximately 52% live in unincorporated areas, the majority of which are heavily urbanized. These residents are part of the Unincorporated Municipal Services Area (UMSA). For these residents, the County fills the role of both lower- and upper-tier government, the County Commission acting as their lower-tier municipal representative body. Residents within UMSA pay an UMSA tax, equivalent to a city tax, which is used to provide County residents with equivalent city services (police, fire, zoning, water and sewer, etc.). Residents of incorporated areas do not pay UMSA tax.
An Executive Mayor and the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners (BCC) govern the County. The County’s main administrative offices are located in the Stephen P. Clark Center (SPCC) at 111 NW 1ST Street in downtown Miami.
The Mayor is elected through a countywide vote and is not a member of the Commission. The Mayor has the power to veto actions of the Commission within ten days of their adoption. The Mayor appoints the County Manager, subject to the approval within 14 days of a majority of Commissioners. Both the Mayor and the Commission have the power to remove a County Manager, requiring a two-thirds vote of Commissioners then in office. No one elected as Mayor may serve more than two consecutive four-year terms. Each year the Mayor delivers a state of the county report (usually in January) and a budget address (usually in July). The post of mayor is currently held by Carlos A. Giménez.
Board of County Commissioners
One County Commissioner is elected from each of Miami-Dade County’s 13 districts to serve a four-year term. Voters from the district in which the commission candidate lives choose commissioners in non-partisan elections. The Commissioners elect a Chairperson, and the Chairperson appoints the members, chairperson and vice chairperson of all standing committees.
The BCC reviews and adopts comprehensive development plans for the county, licenses and regulates taxi, jitneys, limousines and rental cars; sets tolls and provide public transportation systems, regulate utilities, adopt and enforce building codes, establish zoning controls, provide public health facilities, cultural facilities, housing programs etc. Each Commissioner’s salary is $6,000 per year.
The Commission can take no actions unless a majority of Commissioners currently serving in office is present. All meetings are public. The Commission may override a Mayor’s veto at their next regularly scheduled meeting by a two-thirds vote of those present. District elections are held every four years, with the elections of Commissioners from even-numbered districts having taken place in 2006 and those from odd-numbered districts in 2008. The 13 current commissioners are:
|1st||Barbara J. Jordan|
|4th||Sally A. Heyman|
|5th||Bruno A. Barreiro|
|6th||Rebeca Sosa, Chairwoman|
|7th||Xavier L. Suarez|
|8th||Lynda Bell, Vice Chair|
|9th||Dennis C. Moss|
|10th||Javier D. Souto|
|11th||Juan C. Zapata|
|12th||José "Pepe" Diaz|
|13th||Esteban Bovo, Jr.|
The Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD), is the county police department serving Miami-Dade's unincorporated areas, although they have lenient mutual aid agreements with other incorporated municipalities, most often the Miami Police Department. The Director of the MDPD is also known as the Miami-Dade County Sheriff. The MDPD is the largest police department in the Southeastern United States, with approximately 4,700 employees. The Department is still often referred by its former name, the Metro-Dade Police or simply Metro. Miami-Dade Police officers are easily identified by their taupe/brown colored uniforms. Miami-Dade Police vehicles are identified by their green and white livery.
The Charter includes a Citizens Bill of Rights with provisions for: convenient access, truth in government, access to public records, the right to be heard, the right to timely notices, right to public hearing, no unreasonable postponements, prompt notice of actions and reasons, financial disclosure by candidates and other public officials, and a Commission on Ethics and the Public Trust.