All residents should support the creation of a condominium ombudsman position because it will benefit everyone, not just condo owners, Commissioner Jerry Libbin told the Miami Beach Taxpayer’s Association the week of January 5th.
“If you are a condo owner who has a problem, there is no end to the line at the building department. If we could take all of the issues relevant to condo owners and create a special line for them, then that line for everyone else would be much shorter,” Libbin told the Miami Beach Taxpayer’s Association. “This is why the creation of such a position would help everyone,” he added.
Libbin made his presentation at the Shelborne hotel, 1801 Collins Avenue in Miami Beach. He is seeking support in his bid to collect enough signatures to put his proposal to add the position to a vote at an upcoming election. He needs 4,200 signatures for the proposal to appear on the ballot.
The position is for a full-time city employee, who would be tasked with helping condominium owners with issues brought by members of the city’s building, code compliance and fire departments. The ombudsman would file written reports directly to the City Manager.
The ombudsman would report directly to the City Manager, because “I would want him to have some clout,” said Libbin. The proposal also requires the ombudsman to submit quarterly written reports to the City Commission, which will be useful in identifying problem areas or issues that need to be addressed.
“This is something new for me. I’ve never done a ballot initiative, so I really need your help,” Libbin told the audience.
He asked members to steer him to condo associations who would be willing to have him as a speaker to explain the proposal. He is hoping to “deputize” condo owners at each building who would collect signatures.
Since Libbin is a Miami Beach City Commissioner, he was asked why he didn’t simply bring a measure to add the employee to his fellow Commissioners. He answered that he was afraid that his recommendation might get bogged down in political wrangling. “That is my backup plan if I don’t get the 4,200 signatures I need,” he acknowledged.
At the meeting, several people spoke in favor of the idea, including Ray Breslin, President of the Collins Park Neighborhood Association, who described some of the issues he’s had as a condo owner in trying to deal efficiently with City Departments.
Libbin did not specify which election he is targeting, but he said he would look for signatures to be collected three months in advance to allow enough time for the City Commission to approve the ballot question, and for the County to certify the signatures and prepare the ballot.