County Commissioners: projects not to be tweaked without our consent
By Risa Polansky
Big-ticket Miami-Dade County projects are not to be tweaked without commission permission, commissioners insisted Tuesday.
Two items before the county's Governmental Operations and Environment Committee would have allowed administrators to make certain changes to some county projects without first getting commission approval.
Not happening, commissioners said.
Elected officials have lately been "abdicating our responsibility," Joe Martinez said, referring to a measure passed last week that lets aviation Director José Abreu modify contract terms for the airport's North Terminal project without a commission OK.
One initiative presented Tuesday would have let County Manager George Burgess accelerate General Obligation Bond-funded projects that are ready to move forward using unspent bond proceeds, surplus funds and premium funds.
That could mean shifting money intended for one project to move another along first.
None would end up delayed or unfunded as a result, administrators assured.
That wasn't the problem.
"I'm not comfortable with allowing someone else to decide," Mr. Martinez said. "You're just giving a blanket authority."
Agreed Commissioner José "Pepe" Diaz, "It gives the administration free will to decide on projects."
Commissioners instead decided they must give clearance first.
To ensure the added step doesn't defeat the purpose of expediting projects, items are to come directly before the full commission, avoiding a lengthy committee review process.
Commissioners made similar points in approving, but amending, a measure designed to expedite certain projects expected to stimulate the dragging economy.
They supported the job-creation idea but rejected allowing Mayor Carlos Alvarez to OK project change orders above a project's contingency funds without commission approval.