Mayor Gimenez supports ending petition barriers

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez answers questions from KFHA members.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez promised Kendall he will back voter petition reform that currently blocks both incorporation movements and other countywide referenda, due to requirements passed by county commissioner in recent years.

“The decks are unfairly stacked against the people,” he told an audience of more than 100 during a Kendall Federation of Homeowner Associations (KFHA) forum on Mar. 22.

His answer to Lawrence Percival when asked if he would support ending a current moratorium on new incorporation studies and procedures: “Absolutely. The people have the right to discuss such issues.

“But let’s wait to see what the commission does Apr. 3,” he added, referring to the date when a resolution to end the 2007 incorporation moratorium is slated for action on the commission’s regular meeting agenda.

Gimenez also supports change of the commission’s 2005 action that requires each citizen to sign a single page to create petitions, rather than adding a signature to a list, a policy widely criticized for discouraging voter action.

Also pledging charter reform, Gimenez said, “I have been pushing for it since 2007 as a commissioner and as an active member of the Charter Review Committee.

“Residents want term limits now and I support placing eight-year term limits on the November ballot. Voters have the right to decide that issue, once and for all,” he declared.

Reviewing his consolidation of 42 departments into 26, Gimenez said a “leaner county government” is his next objective by reducing costs in newly created departments, changing procedures, improving inter-departmental communication, increasing use of technology and centralizing functions for greater efficiency.

“What matters most to you is the red tape in permitting, a process that we have taken for granted for too long without changing the system,” he said. “Architects, builders or property owners shouldn’t have to visit multiple city and county departments to satisfy simple permitting regulations.

“Procedures need to be changed that ultimately could provide one-stop shopping so that conceivably, the push of a button could result in routine permitting, rather than driving all over town to do the same thing,” he said.

Expediting the permitting process and eliminating outdated regulations will help streamline a “customer-friendly government focused on building new investment and create high-paying, quality jobs to improve the county economy,” he concluded.

In other comments to audience questions, Gimenez said, “We cut the fiscal 2011-12 budget only where it was needed to act and get the concessions from the employee unions we needed to maintain services.”

Asked about using natural gas to reduce county vehicle fuel bills, he replied: “I’m on to it. I know about what California is doing and we’re looking into it, too.”

Ending an hour’s questioning by the audience, Gimenez got his biggest hand for his shortest answer of the night when asked how he stood on location of FPL aboveground transmission lines, now proposed along S. Dixie Highway (US 1), SW 77th Avenue or SW 137th Avenue corridors.

“FPL should bury the new lines — period,” the mayor said.

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