By Hank Tester

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The battle over incorporating Biscayne Gardens is heating up.

A slick social media video proclaims, “Incorporating Biscayne Gardens puts the control in our hands by electing people from within our community. We will have our own dedicated police department and have a say in our own communities growth and development.”

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That and the promise of a reasonable tax rate are what those proposing that the unincorporated area of Biscayne Gardens become Miami-Dade’s 35th municipality.

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jean Monestime help introduce the proposal to get it on the November General Election ballot.

“If incorporated Biscayne Gardens will have a lower millage than North Miami, North Miami Beach, Miami Gardens, Biscayne Gardens probably will be in the top five lowest millage in municipalities,” he said.

But there is plenty of opposition.

“There is nothing to be gained by becoming a city other than a higher tax bill,” said Biscayne Gardens resident Bruce Lamberto.

“To me, this is gentrification because of what will happen and the poor will be pushed out and the affluent will be moved in here,” added Margaret Reid.

Biscayne Gardens is best described as a suburban bedroom community. It’s located east of the I-95/Golden Glades interchange surrounded by Opa-locka, North Miami, Miami Gardens, and North Miami Beach.

The average income is around $44,000 a year.

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Citing Miami Gardens and other recently incorporated municipalities, Monestime said of those cities who long ago voted for incorporation, “They are all thriving including Miami Gardens, are thriving because they have government closer to them providing greater services, providing greater service.”

Here is Biscayne Gardens by the numbers.

  • Population approximately 35,000.
  • It’s a little over five square miles.
  • 56 percent residential homes with a 20 percent poverty rate.
  • 69 percent of residents are Black/non-Hispanic.
  • Approximately 20 percent are Hispanic
  • 7.2 percent is white/non-Hispanic

“It is not a rich area and a lot of people can’t afford higher taxes on their homes,” said Lamberto

Monestime countered, “Frankly if I had my way I would encourage everyone to support incorporation they would have more services, the property value would be higher definitely.”

What worries opponents to incorporation is right now the county subsidizes the area. Unincorporated Biscayne Gardens currently generates $9.6 million dollars in county revenue and receives over $13 million in services, an almost three and one half million dollar benefit for the residents.

Daniel Gualtieri, another longtime Biscayne Gardens resident said, “They pick up my garbage on time, the recycling works, excellent police service here.”

The opposition clams if incorporation is approved taxes would have to go up.

“The city is starting out with no budget, so they will have to come back and have a large tax increase in the following years just to build a new police station and City Hall,” said Lamberto.

What Biscayne Gardens voters will have to decide on November 2nd is what they believe the price will be for self governing.

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“I think it is important that the citizens in that neighborhood educate themselves, do research and decide for themselves if they want to incorporate or not,” said Monestime.