The usual argument from Miami-Dade County residents wanting to turn their communities into cities is the desire to control their own affairs, away from the dictates of county government. The result is more than 30 municipalities, some of which try to grow by annexing nearby unincorporated neighborhoods.
It is understandable, therefore, that community leaders in the North Central section of the county want to have their own city, not just to control their own destiny but also to forestall any annexation efforts. Enclosed on four sides by Opa-locka, Miami, North Miami and Hialeah, they fear, as one of them, Doretha Nichson, puts it, “attempts to cherry-pick our area.”
Dreams of a city were deferred when the Miami-Dade County Commission slapped a moratorium on incorporation. That freeze was lifted at the end of last year so North Central Dade is back in contention. If it is successful, the proposed municipality, tentatively called Encida – an acronym for the common name of the area – will encompass 12 square miles and include some 85,000 residents, 61 percent of them blacks. That will make it one of the largest majority-black cities in Florida.
The boundaries have been established and the key step is now ahead for the incorporation leaders: to prepare a draft budget showing that the area can be fiscally self-sustaining – that it can pay its bills if it becomes a city. This is a requirement from the County Commission, with good reason. It would not make sense to create a city and then have to ask for subsidies. The cost of operating a police department, for instance, would absorb a substantial part of any budget.
But there are ways by which costs can be contained, such as the examples of Miami Lakes and also Weston in Broward County, which save substantial amounts of money by outsourcing most of their municipal work to the private sector.