Miami: Screwed Again

The legislature helped taxpayers, but not in the Magic City

At first few at city hall or Miami's largest daily newspaper realized there was a mistake: The Herald wrote on June 25 that the Magic City was exempt, but didn't note legislators' claims the vote was a screwup. Then on July 13, a full month after the special session ended, the St. Pete Times published its story detailing the gaffe. The reaction from readers was swift. "We need to cut Miami off the peninsula and send the whole thing to Cuba," wrote one person. Commented another: "Shows you just what kind of idiots run this state. It's part of the reason people are leaving Florida."

Miami city Commissioner Tomás Regalado was also angry. "I had a fit when I heard about this," he says. "You cannot do this to the residents of the poorest and biggest city in Florida."

Regalado would like to know what the city shelled out to lobby the legislature on property tax reform. He plans to address the issue at this week's commission meeting. "I want to know how much of my money was spent to screw me," he fumes. "This belongs on Comedy Central."

Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, who says he did not lobby for the exemption/mistake, was also surprised by the vote. He says tax relief will help people who own "$100 million buildings" more than the average Joe. "The rollback really affects government more than it helps the homeowner," he says.

Rubio vows to pressure Diaz and city commissioners to make additional cuts. The mayor's response: "He doesn't run the city. I do."

Whether or not Miami takes action, Rubio promises to "fix" the mistake during the upcoming legislative session. "It's easily correctable," he contends.

Homeowners in Miami — at least ones who have heard about the mistake — are disheartened by the news that property taxes likely won't fall. "It's disappointing, to say the least," says William Hopper, who bought his home in Morningside in 1984. "I think the politicians are sidestepping the whole issue."

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