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Miami-Dade County Commissioners voted 13-0 to approve the Pets’ Trust Miami initiative, paving the way for a broader November vote on the issue.
The effort would raise Miami-Dade homeowners’ property taxes by $20 per year in order to create a dedicated funding source to care for animals and work toward making Miami-Dade a no-kill shelter county, the Pets’ Trust says.
“It was a great day for the animal movement because there is no community in the country that has a trust like this,” Pets’ Trust organizer Michael Rosenberg said in a statement Tuesday night. “The entire journey was not easy and the behind the scenes movements this morning that we orchestrated would have put professional lobbyists to shame.”
He said animal advocates wanted an unanimous vote, not a majority one, and they got it.
The tax will cost homeowners an average of 5 cents per day and save 20,000 lives a year, Rosenberg said.
Now, the initiative will be put on the November ballot as a nonbinding question. The straw vote will tell the commission residents' sentiment, County Commissioner Sally Heyman said.
A yes vote, followed by the commissioners' adoption of the program, could generate up to $20 million for spaying and neutering, pet retention programs, and education.
"This is something that is a big focus, that would provide low-cost spay and neutering, free spay and neutering, especially for cats to reduce the cat intake population," Miami-Dade Animal Services Director Alex Muñoz said.
Not everyone is swayed by the idea.
"The animal population is the responsibility of us, not the government," Javier Ramos said.
And Rafael de la Reyes said he doesn't think voters will approve the tax increase.
"It makes all the sense in the world, but this county will never pass, it no way," he said.