by Lone Shark
The Pembroke Pines City Commission has been playing fast and loose with the city’s finances of late in an effort to stop construction of a civil detention center in Southwest Ranches. Earlier this month, the City Commission voted 3-2 to cancel an agreement that would have provided fire and EMS services to Southwest Ranches. The agreement included a provision that the city would provide water and sewer service to the detention center. Canceling the agreement will cost Pembroke Pines over one million dollars annually in revenue from Southwest Ranches, who paid Pembroke Pines for the fire and EMS coverage. In addition, by refusing to provide water and sewer service, the City passed up an upfront payment of $3 million for connection fees and close to $1 million annual in water/sewer fees.
The cancellation of the agreement has landed the City of Pembroke Pines in federal court. The city’s attorney warned the Commission that canceling the agreement could leave city legally liable, but the City Commission didn’t agree and hired an outside counsel who believed that the city was on safe legal ground and authored a a contradictory legal opinion to the one rendered by the city’s own attorney.
The net result of all of this squabbling is that Pembroke Pines residents had better prepare themselves for higher taxes. Commissioner Angelo Castillo thinks people will be understanding of the tax hike. “If people’s property taxes go up, I think they’ll understand we’re doing everything we can to keep this out of their city,” Castillo said just after the March 7th vote.