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Property appraiser sues Miami-Dade County over office's independence


Property Appraiser Carlos Lopez-Cantera sued Miami-Dade County on Tuesday to gain more independent control over his office.

Lopez-Cantera asked the Miami-Dade Circuit Court to rule on how much control, if any, county commissioners and Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s administration have over the property appraiser’s powers.

“The county attorney has refused to recognize the will of the voters when, in 2008, they overwhelmingly voted to make the county property appraiser an independent, constitutional officer,” Lopez-Cantera said. “That is why today I have filed an action with the circuit court to remove any doubts regarding the nature and independence of the office.”

County Attorney Robert Cuevas has opined that the property appraiser is essentially an elected department head with some extra powers — but not as many as those awarded to constitutional officers named in the Florida Constitution.

According to Cuevas, the matter was settled in a 2008 lawsuit in which Circuit Judge Gisela Cardonne Ely ruled that the property appraiser was a local — not a constitutional — position under Miami-Dade’s home-rule charter. That ruling was never appealed.

But because Miami-Dade voters did not expressly vote on whether the property appraiser would be a constitutional officer or an elected department head, Lopez-Cantera contends the court must still weigh in on that ambiguity.

More here.