Saturday, October 11, 2008

Miami-Dade County to Have Its First Elected Property Appraiser

Historically, Miami-Dade County is the only one of Florida's 67 counties to have an appointed, rather than elected, Property Appraiser. Indeed, under the Dade County Charter, both Property Appraiser and Tax Collector are technically department heads appointed by the County Manager. This is something of an anomaly, considering that both positions are constitutional officers under Florida law.

The County Attorney takes the position that notwithstanding the generally-applicable provision in the Florida Constitution, the Property Appraiser's Office will be a sort of hybrid, being an elected department head, but NOT a constitutional officer as in Broward or Duval--both charter counties--and as in the other 64 counties in Florida under the general; constitutional provision establishing the office of Property Appraiser as an office of constitutional dimension.

Query whether Miami-Dade County's Property Appraiser should be able to claim constitutional officer jurisdiction for the purpose of advancing appellate review in the Florida Supreme Court at the same time the County claims that its Property Appraiser is NOT a constitutional officer!

All that history changed on January 29, 2008, when the electorate of Miami-Dade County voted to make the position of Property Appraiser an elected one.

Uniquely, Miami-Dade County's elected property appraiser will operate to some extent under the supervision of the County Commission. To date, the Commission has adopted an ordinance giving the soon-to-be-elected Property Appraiser control of most of the depratment's nearly 300 employees, who will continue under union collective bargaining agreements to enjoy the protections afforded classified (as distinguished from exempt) employees. These include termination and disciplinary policies applicable to County employees generally.

At least initially, the County Commission will control the pay and benefits of the Property Appraiser, with an annual salary of $153,000. The Commission stated that they might be willing to change the Property Appraiser's salary to be controlled byr the State formula for constitutional offices, which would increase annual pay to about $175,000.

Interestingly--nay, oddly--the County Commission will establish the pay ranges for the Property Appraiser's staff. Conferring a more-autonomous measure of authority, the county Commission vouchsafed unto the Property Appraiser the prerogative to place proposed ordinances and resolutions on the County Commission's legislative agenda.

The proposal to have an elected Property Appraiser for the first time in Miami-Dade County originated in the County's Charter Review Task Force.

Weiss has been named a “Top Lawyer” by South Florida Legal Guide (2007, 2008), Florida Super Lawyers (2006), Florida Trend Legal Elite (2004) and Who’s Who in Practicing Attorneys (1989-1990) and has been included on Miami’s “A list” in five categories: law, philanthropy, business, arts and social prominence, in New York’s Avenue Magazine (2006, 2007, 2008).