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March 05, 2009
Miami postpones one stadium vote, schedules another vote for tonight
Apparently Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez knew something after all: The Miami city commission yesterday postponed its scheduled vote tomorrow on the Florida Marlins stadium proposal, rescheduling it for Thursday, March 19.
In the meantime, Miami's Community Redevelopment Agency board will vote tonight on city commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones' demand for $500 million in property taxes to be redirected to her Overtown district as a condition of the stadium deal. (The CRA board, conveniently enough, is made up of the five city commissioners.) It looks like Spence-Jones is just looking for an expanded tax-increment financing district, not the use of existing TIF funds, so the Marlins' confusing deal to shuffle tax money among various pockets wouldn't be unraveled; instead, the city would just agree to peel $500 million off the top of future property-tax revenues and put it in a fund marked "Open only for use in Overtown."
If tonight's vote approves the Spence-Jones plan, then, expect that the stadium should have smooth sailing once the city commission finally meets on March 19. Except, of course, that the county commission still needs to approve it afterwards. And then there's this guy:
Newly elected Miami Beach Rep. Richard Steinberg has announced he filed an amendment to a sports-franchise bill (HB 253) that would require voter approval of a Marlins stadium in Miami.
From a Steinberg press statement:
"The voters in Miami-Dade County should be given the right to decide whether to commit over a billion dollars of public money for a baseball stadium. If the local elected officials will not allow the people to vote, the Florida Legislature should require them to hold a referendum."
It almost certainly couldn't be done retroactively — that didn't work in St. Louis — even if it were to pass the state legislature. But it's got to be one more thing keeping David Samson up at night.
Florida HB 253 "... does not prohibit the expenditure of funds to meet a legally binding obligation of a governmental entity which was created before July 1, 2009."
So now that Spence-Jones has been property greased, the Marlins will sneak in under the wire. Unless the Miami City or Dade County Commissioners decide they'd like one of those "10 minute" recesses prior to voting.
In other news, Matt Silverman was seen leaving St. Pete heading towards Tallahassee with a briefcase full of unmarked bills bundled in Rays wristbands.
I was going to wait up for news of the CRA board vote, but it's nearing midnight and no results have been reported (and the CRA site, sadly, appears to lack a webcam). If anyone gets word before the morning, feel free to post it here.
SANTA'S WORKSHOP AND THE MIAMI ELVES
Following a Miami tradition, the Miami CRA board didn't actually vote on Thursday. Instead they had a "workshop". Following another Miami tradition, not everyone was in attendance.
" Spence-Jones made the comments during a workshop meeting she called for Thursday evening ... The city's five commissioners act as its CRA board, with Spence-Jones as chairwoman. Although only two commissioners -- Spence-Jones and Marc Sarnoff -- attended the workshop."
The actual vote on the issue is set for March 12th.
"On March 12, the CRA will vote on expanding and extending the life of the Overtown/Park West CRA."
Marc Sarnoff brought his sling blade to the workshop.
"... the meeting turned feisty when Sarnoff questioned Miami Chief Financial Officer Larry Spring's projection that growing the district could mean up to $500 million for Overtown. Spring admitted that the projections were created before the market collapse last year."
Marc is not one for inflated property or tourist tax revenues: "You probably only have, at a maximum, $100 million in bonding capacity, not $500 million" Sarnoff said before Spence-Jones cut him off.
Miami is alive and well.