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Miami-Dade mayor asks Florida whether Dolphins can pay for special election on stadium renovations


Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez formally asked the Florida Division of Elections on Thursday to opine on whether a private entity -- the Miami Dolphins -- could cover the costs of a county election.

The Dolphins have agreed to a special election to ask Miami-Dade voters to raise mainland hotel taxes to partly fund a proposed $400 million renovation to Sun Life Stadium. The county elections department estimates the referendum would cost $3 million to $5 million.

When the team accepted his referendum condition, Gimenez said the county would have to bear the election expense because an existing state opinion from the 1980s prohibiting private companies from funding an election.

But in his request to Maria Mathews, head of the elections division, Gimenez also noted that state law was amended in 1992 to require parimutuels to indirectly pay for elections by depositing a sum with the county to cover the costs.

"I do not believe...that the taxpayers of Miami-Dade County should be forced to shoulder the costs (estimated between $3-5 million) of this election brought about by a request from a private party," Gimenez wrote. "I therefore intend to require the Miami Dolphins organization to pay for the costs of such an election."

Racetracks indirectly reimbursed Miami-Dade and Broward for nearly $7 million spent on a special gambling election in 2005.

Several county commissioners have said the Dolphins should pay for the election.