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Miami-Dade mayor backed lifting ban on new cities

For the record, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez is glad the county has lifted its nearly five-year ban on new cities.

Gimenez was absent from Tuesday's meeting where commissioners, with an 11-0 vote, did away with the moratorium on city incorporations. Gimenez voted for the ban in 2007, meeting minutes show, but he requested a report on the effects of incorporation to be presented to the commission within 90 days.

"I'm happy that the moratorium has been lifted," he said. "People should have a right to determine what kind of government they want to have. I've also said that they need to get all the information, without any filters, so that they can make an educated decision."

Still, Gimenez said that he would prefer it if unincorporated clusters of the county joined one of Miami-Dade's 34 existing cities rather than create new municipalities. "I would rather have more annexations," he said.

As for the broader question of whether the county should incorporate all of its unincorporated areas, leaving county government to deal with big-ticket, regional issues such as public transportation, jails and the Jackson Health System, Gimenez noted that a 2007 charter review task force recommended bringing that policy matter before the voters.

"It makes sense to do that," Gimenez said. "But it probably won't happen that way."

Commissioners have not jumped at the chance of accepting that recommendation in the past, the mayor said, though as elected officials they could make that decision on their own, without a vote.

But that would require a cultural change. Past commissions and administrations have done much to block new cities, Gimenez said. A commissioner until last year, the mayor said he couldn't get enough support from staffers or the dais to allow neighborhoods in his district, such as High Pines and the Pines/Davis community, to join Coral Gables.

"There's no doubt in my mind that there was an effort by previous administrations and previous commissions not to incorporations, not to have annexations," he said. "The moratorium is a great example of that."