MIAMI DADE COUNTY
Miami-Dade County is a county located in the southeastern part of the US State of Florida. The county had a population of 2,701,767, according to the Census 2020, and it’s the most populous county in Florida and the 7th in the United States.
It’s Florida’s 3rd largest county in land area, with 1946 square miles (5040 km2). The county seat is Miami, the main city in South Florida.
Miami-Dade also is heavily Hispanic, and was the most populous majority-Hispanic county in the US in 2020.
The county is home to 34 incorporated cities, 38 census-designated places and 16 unincorpored regions. The northern, central and eastern portions of the county are heavily urbanized with many high-line buildings along the coastline, including South Florida’s central business district, Downtown Miami. Southern Miami-Dade County includes the Redland and Homestead areas, which make up the agricultural economy of the region.
The county also includes portions of two national parks: the Everglades National Park and is populated only by a Miccosukee tribal village; Biscayne National Park and the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves. Also, there is a National Protected Area, Big Cypress National Preserve.
Law, Government and Politics
Miami-Dade County has operated under a metropolitan system of government, a “two-tier federation“, since 1957. This was made possible when Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment in 1956. Unlike a consolidated city-county, where the city and county governments merge into a single entity, these two entities are separate. Instead there are two “tiers”, or levels, of government: city and county. There are 34 municipalities in the county, where the City of Miami is the largest.
Cities are the “lower tier” of local government, providing police and fire protection, zoning and code enforcement, and other typical city services within their jurisdiction. These services are paid for by city taxes. The County is the “upper tier”, and it provides services of a metropolitan nature, such as emergency management, airport and seaport operations, public housing and health care services, transportation, environmental services, solid waste disposal, etc. These are funded by county taxes, which are assessed on all incorporated and unincorporated areas.
Structure of Government
- The Mayor of Miami-Dade County is elected countywide to serve a four-year term. Is not a member of the County Commission, appoints all 25 directors who oversee the operations of the County Departments and has veto power over the Commission. A mayoral appointment and veto can only be overridden by a two-thirds majority of the County Commission.
- The Board of County Commissioners is the legislative body, consisting of 13 members elected from single-member districts. Members are elected to serve four-year terms, and elections of members are staggered. The Board chooses a Chairperson, who presides over the Commission, as well as appoints the members of its legislative committees. The Board has a wide array of powers to enact legislation, create departments, and regulate businesses operating within the County. It also has the power to override the Mayor’s veto with a two-thirds vote.
- Florida’s Constitution provides for six elected officials to oversee executive and administrative functions for each county (called “Constitutional Officers”): Sheriff, Property Appraiser, Supervisor of Elections, Tax Collector, Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller. However, the Constitution allows voters in home-rule counties (including Miami-Dade) to abolish the offices and reorganize them as subordinate County departments; Miami-Dade voters chose this option for Sheriff, Supervisor of Elections, Controller and Tax Collector. The office of Clerk of the Circuit Court, and the judicial offices of State Attorney, and Public Defender, are still branches of State government and are, therefore, independently elected and not part of County government.