Miami Beach Holds Sustainability and Resiliency Committee Session on October 23rd

Commissioner Samuelian shared the most significant news coming out of yesterday’s session may be regarding the delayed Palm-Hibiscus project, and an explanation of the hold-up by Miami-Dade’s Department of Environmental Resources Management (DERM).

“The Palm-Hibiscus project, which started in 2016 has been significantly delayed causing much angst and concern with residents” Samuelian shared. “[During that time] more than 200 drainage structures, on both public and private property, were installed without approval of DERM, which has been a major problem.”

The commission had invited the head of DERM and County Commissioner Eileen Higgins to attend, this is where they shared what the issues were. Samuelian said it was time to “Fix it, fix it fast, and learn from the mistakes.”

October 24, 2019 | Miami Beach Times | Miami Beach Holds Sustainability and Resiliency Committee Session on October 23rd

He ran Miami-Dade’s ethics commission. Now he’s the new watchdog for Miami Beach.

Miami Beach commissioners unanimously voted Wednesday to allow the city attorney to negotiate a contract with Centorino, encouraging him to focus on identifying wasteful spending.

“It’s all about efficiency,” said Commissioner Mark Samuelian. “This is an exciting day for Miami Beach. It is a great day for good government.”

At Wednesday’s meeting, Miami Beach commissioners gave Centorino his first formal task, directing him to review every department in the city for efficiency ahead of next year’s budget process. Commissioner Michael Góngora initially proposed sending the task to the finance committee, but Samuelian recommended that the committee collaborate with Centorino’s office on the review.

October 17, 2019 | Miami Herald | He ran Miami-Dade’s ethics commission. Now he’s the new watchdog for Miami Beach.

Renewal of City Manager’s Contract Agreed to in Principle

Commissioner Mark Samuelian said he wanted to see “more data, more fact-based analysis” of projects. “With the size of money flying around, I really think we need to elevate our game.”

Referencing the “unique challenges” faced by the City in terms of sea level rise and flooding, he said he wanted to “raise the bar on resiliency” with better “planning and executive engagement with community stakeholders and with the boards.”

Samuelian urged Morales to present a “stronger point of view” on items so that decisions are “less Commission driven.”

“We rely on your professional expertise and your team to call it like you see it,” Samuelian told Morales. He wants Commissioners to consider less of the “small details” and more big picture items but added, “Overall, I’m very pleased.”

February 20, 2019 | RE: Miami Beach | Renewal of City Manager’s Contract Agreed to in Principle

With overwhelming support from voters, Miami Beach creates a watchdog for City Hall

Commissioner Mark Samuelian, who has pushed for the inspector general’s office, said he thinks the initiative will end up saving the city money over the long run.

“One of the main functions of the inspector general is to help the city government work more efficiently, so if you think about it, even if the inspector general would identify just 1 percent efficiencies, that’s $6 million a year,” he said. “If you ask me if I’d spend $1 million to save $6 million? Any day of the week.”

February 13, 2019 | Miami Herald | With overwhelming support from voters, Miami Beach creates a watchdog for City Hall

Budget Nears Final Approval

Mark Samuelian who is going through his first budget process on the Commission and as a member of the Finance Committee said, “We keep running into the CPI thing” referencing the lack of automatic increases to keep up with the Consumer Price Index. “Costs go up every year. We’ve waited years without acknowledging cost increases… that’s partly on us. We need to stop that.”

September 22, 2018 | RE: Miami Beach | Budget Nears Final Approval

Miami Beach voters reject $40,000 raise for city officials by a slim margin

Critics of the salary increase, including Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, have questioned whether elected officials should recommend their own raises. Gelber said earlier in the month that he would support a review of commissioner salaries by a third-party group as long as any changes didn’t impact current officeholders. Commissioners Micky Steinberg and Mark Samuelian also opposed putting raises on the August ballot.

August 28, 2018 | Miami Herald | Miami Beach voters reject $40,000 raise for city officials by a slim margin

Update: Pay Raise for Mayor and Commissioners on August Ballot

In June, four Commissioners voted in favor of adding the item to the August 28th ballot: Ricky Arriola, John Alemán, Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, and item sponsor Michael Góngora. Commissioners Mark Samuelian and Micky Steinberg voted no. Mayor Dan Gelber left the meeting early to attend his daughter’s high school graduation but was later quoted by the Miami Herald as saying he opposed the increase.

Samuelian said, “I absolutely understand the spirit and totally buy into the comments around talent pool… I do think the timing that Commissioner Alemán mentions with the upcoming budget, that fact that we’re in little bit tougher times I think is an important point.”

Samuelian reiterated his opposition. “I understand the spirit. I would echo the comments about timing and I know it’s not reality but somehow I think people are going to conflate the GO Bond and raising taxes.” Putting these on the ballot in the same election cycle with the GO Bond in November “gives me pause,” he said. “I do not believe that’s a legitimate connection but somehow I could see that if folks aren’t following the dialogue closely, those things coming at the same time also doesn’t strike me well, so I’m not going to support this today.”

August 18, 2018 | RE: Miami Beach | Update: Pay Raise for Mayor and Commissioners on August Ballot

Stormwater, Sewer, and Sanitation Fees Going Up

Commissioner Mark Samuelian said, “I’m not comfortable with this. I don’t feel like this is the best timing… it’s a very big increase, 23%.”

“We just decided [two days ago] to ask the voters if they wanted to spend $430m in taxes” through a General Obligation (GO) Bond, Samuelian said. “I’m not sure the timing is right then to say, in addition, we’re going to raise your stormwater fees by 23%.”

“I believe that the GO Bond is us making the case for a lot of funds for stormwater, a lot of funds that help resiliency, and the voters are going to decide,” he continued. “This is different. They’re not getting a seat at the table on this one.” With potential proposed changes coming to the program to include new options such as blue and green infrastructure, Samuelian said, “I understand that we will need new funding. I’m not disagreeing with that but the changes in the program, to me, I think we could push this out a year or two and I would recommend we do that until we have much firmer footing on the funding.”

August 11, 2018 | RE: Miami Beach | Stormwater, Sewer, and Sanitation Fees Going Up