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Zapata tells incorporation foes to wait for study conclusions

The Municipal Advisory Committee (MAC) studying a northwest Kendall area as a potential city concluded an occasionally stormy session on June 18, attempting to convince a standing- room crowd that its actions are limited to fact-finding and a recommendation — not the act of incorporation itself.

“Registered voters within the area will make that decision should the MAC process result in a ballot referendum,” affirmed committee chair Raul Pino who patiently explained the MAC’s advisory role.

MAC members listened at the meeting’s outset to a variety of anti-incorporation messages, largely objecting to “another layer of government,” increased taxes and loss of current services.

“This process, which has just begun, is to determine whether or not it makes sense to consider incorporation for this area,” said Commissioner Juan C. Zapata, who tried to convince incorporation opponents to await the outcome of the MAC study, only in its third month of an expected year of meetings.

“I am not seeking to be the mayor of West Kendall,” Zapata declared flatly at one point, noting the accusation had been voiced since the MAC meetings began.

“That’s the first time I’ve made that statement publicly,” he added, identifying himself as initiator of the MAC when asked by a resident “Who started all this?”

“After my initial experiences as a commissioner and as a state legislator, I felt that Kendall wasn’t getting its fair share of services in return for the tax dollars collected here,” he explained. “The MAC process is a non-partisan study to determine to what extent that may be true, and whether incorporation is the answer to improving local government services, beyond what the county provides.”

When MAC member Monica Colucci asked if other pre-incorporation material from other cities might be available for review, a former MAC chair, Henry “Hank” Hamilton, a Dadeland CPA and admittedly a pro-incorporation advocate, said he willingly would provide a summary of revenues and potential budgeting for a proposed East Kendall city in 2003.

He said that vocal crowds wearing red T-shirts lettered “Just Say No” to incorporation regularly appeared at meetings before that MAC was disbanded by then Commissioner Joe Martinez, prior to its final report.

As explained by Jorge M. Fernandez Jr., Office of Management and Budget coordinator who is supervising the current MAC study, meetings will lead to a pro forma budget based on revenue and taxing capability that can be compared with current UMSA (Unincorporated Municipal Service Area) services. Other session highlights:

• Boundaries (roughly SW Eighth Street (north), SW 88th Street (south), SW 127th and SW 147th avenues (east), SW 187th Avenue (west) place nearly half the proposed municipal territory outside the Urban Development Boundary, limiting future residential development to one unit per acre.

• Protested Madeline Hernandez, who lives just southeast of SW 147th Avenue and Eighth Street: “Your boundaries are all wrong; the SW Eighth Street area doesn’t belong in the Kendall area.”

Seventeen county parks are located within the study area and would be administered by a newly created city; Kendale Lakes Park is the only one manned daily, according to George Parrado, region manager.

• Describing ethical guidelines, Robert Thompson, Miami-Dade Committee on Ethics and Public Trust, stated: “Only one major government body in Florida doesn’t have a Sunshine Law…believe it or not, it’s the Florida State Legislature.”

• Tax generation power of the area is estimated at $30 billion according to one estimate, noted Lawrence Percival of the Greater Kendall Community Activists Inc.

As described by Fernandez, once the committee’s work is completed, at least two public hearings will take place when residents can speak for and against the recommendation. An incorporation enabling resolution also would require approval by county commissioners, preceded by a public hearing, before placement on a county ballot.

The committee received a proposed 21- step “work plan” mapping out future study areas that will include Regulatory and Economic Resources, Planning and Zoning, Department of Environmental Resources Management (DERM), and Miami-Dade Police Department.

Following those presentations the committee is scheduled to begin work on determining projections of revenue and expenses to develop a pro-forma budget for a new city.

At the meeting’s conclusion, Pino noted the MAC committee was searching for a school location for its next session at 6:30 p.m. on July 16 due to the limited size of the Kendale Lakes Branch Library, 15205 SW 88 St.

For updates, visit online at <www.miamidade.gov/incoporationandannexation/ west-kendall-section-1.asp>.

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