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Miami-Dade commissioners sign off on multi-pronged charter reform question

Voters will be asked for the 13th time in five decades if Miami-Dade commissioners should get a raise — but this time the referendum question comes with several incentives that could entice a public eager for County Hall reform when they go to the polls at the end of January.

The county panel voted 10-3 Thursday to put on the ballot a single, multi-pronged question: Should commissioners be allowed to serve only two, four-year terms instead of the unlimited tenure that exists now, be banned from all outside employment, and be paid $92,097 a year instead of their current $6,000?

The charter reform planks came directly from recommendations made by a 2008 Charter Review Task Force, which commissioners have ignored but are now embracing under widespread pressure for change. Still, the panel took care of incumbents: If the measure passes, sitting commissioners would be limited to two more terms — but only after their current term ends.

The three-hour discussion was filled with anxious questioning and lobbying from some commissioners who have sat on the dais for well over a decade, yet who ultimately voted in line with the majority despite major reservations.

“The effects of the eight years [term limits] will be felt 10 or 12 years from now. Bureaucrats and lobbyists will have the institutional knowledge, that’s who will be running our government,” said Commission Chairman Joe Martinez, before casting a vote in favor.

More from Charles Rabin here.