Next for Voters: Balloting for Bonds?

With GOP and Democratic conventions at hand, most voter attention will focus on national races in the immediate weeks ahead.

However, financial concerns to replace deteriorating schools and water and sewer lines are perhaps the biggest decisions county taxpayers may face in November.

Miami-Dade’s School Board last Wednesday put a $1.2 billion bond issue on the Nov. 6 ballot to upgrade schools and technology.

Board member Carlos Curbelo, who represents a major Kendall constituency, reversed his earlier opposition to the measure, giving his support as a member of the Board but added he hasn’t yet made up his mind how he will vote as a resident.

That uncertainty may give many voters pause this fall.

Although passage is predicted to cause an average $10 increase in tax bills, county voters almost always support educational causes in Miami-Dade. However, Commissioners are currently trying to figure out how to deal with a deteriorating 50- year-old water and sewer network that covers 7,700 miles and an additional 6,000 of wastewater mains and pipes.

The systems that serve 422,000 water customers and 340,000 retail wastewater consumers need $1.1 billion in repairs, according to a July report covering its “most deteriorated and vulnerable” elements. Repairs as required by an Environmental Protection Agency consent order will likely be funded with a combination of revenue bonds, grants and loans. A bonding program to finance part of that system may wind up on the November ballot.

At a time when homeowner insurance costs soar and housing economics depress property values, asking voters to increase their tax bills is going to be one of the most difficult sells imaginable. Caring for the future of Miami-Dade is equally at stake with the tiring political rhetoric of ObamaCare vs. RomneyCare.

Certainly, that’s more vital than recent squabbling over boleteros or costly recounts of absentee ballots, blown-up in the daily media by individuals primarily to save a candidacy.

Of five contested seats for two Kendall Community Councils in the Aug. 14 primary, four incumbents were ousted. Only Angie Vazquez by a 53-46 percentage of total votes cast retained her East Kendall Council 12 seat while ex-chair Jose Garciga and Anthony Petisco lost theirs. In West Kendall’s Council 11, longtime member Jeff Wander and appointee Ileana Petisco also lost their posts.

Calmness Returns! So say emails by Travel People’s Doug Kostowski from his second- floor office “perch” overlooking the Shula– Killian Drive reconstruction that produced more than a normal share of fender-benders since the MDX project began Aug. 1, 2011.

“Traffic moves smoothly even though there are many weaving lane changes. The landscaping is lovely, despite the cost reports.” A non-working left turn arrow for accessing 874 South also makes it appear the “Wrong Way” sign is pointed at you, he further advises, but adds: “Thanks for the anticipated corrections.”

Unsolicited comment from a driver new to the lushly-landscaped expressway medians: “I think it makes a great entry to the MDC College campus…it never looked so good when I commuted here, back in the 80’s.”

Congrats to Emily Freeman, 15, first place winner of a 4H Club competition in Gainesville for a speech on the “Negative Effects of the FCAT,” a hot topic among Florida education circles – and making Debbie Freeman a proud mom, once again.

In March, Emily, who a top student in a home schooling course, is President of Miami-Dade’s 4H Youth Council with over 10,000 members. Hoover Elementary School kids in The Hammocks may recall Emily’s teaching of the finer points of wind power in an environmental “hands on” learning session, one of many she conducts for Miami-Dade elementary school small fry.

Glen Cove folks in Kendall watching construction and installation of French drains and miscellaneous roadway restorations along busy SW 117 Avenue in the area of SW100 Terrace, including new sidewalks in some swale areas. Work is due to be completed by December 31. A similar project along SW76 Avenue from SW 12 to SW10 Street, due to be finished by Sept. 30.

Thought of the Day:

Innovation distinguishes between a

leader and a follower.

— Steve Jobs

Richard Yager contributed to this column.

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About the Author

Michael Miller
Michael co-owns Community Newspapers with his brother Grant and serves as Executive Editor of the group of newspapers. He enjoys writing about local politics and area businesses. Michael can be reached at

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