Business & Economy

The Miami Dade governance structure and how it works

Miami Dade uses two-tier governance to manage the county and run affairs, working at multiple levels

Miami Dade has a unique, two-tier governance structure that has been in place since the metropolitan style of governance was implemented in 1957. This system has worked for the county, and the various cities within it, due to the vast number of people and municipalities in each region. It has made governance and management significantly easier while also allowing for more seamless decision-making and organization.

Let’s dive into the structure at present and how that works to empower Miami-Dade residents:

There is an upper tier of governance at the county level in Miami Dade

Miami-Dade County is at the top tier of governance and is an extension of the state government. Since this upper tier is a subdivision of the state, its original purpose was to act as state offices within local vicinities. Simply put, your county's government manages common issues, acting as a central authority in charge of major metropolitan services such as traffic engineering, property evaluations, tax collection, port management for airports & seaports, drainage, and water supply, and solid waste disposal.

Miami Dade county also becomes responsible for offering certain city-type services, such as law enforcement and garbage & trash collection for residents of the unincorporated areas.

Cities or municipalities are at the second tier of governance

Miami Dade County comprises 34 incorporated municipalities, also known as cities, which have independent governments taking care of another set of roles and responsibilities. They make up the second tier of governance and focus on more localized services and functions such as parks and recreation, planning and zoning, and tend to have their own police and fire departments.

For a city to be incorporated, it must be granted a legal status to transact government business, which means they have access the same way a private corporation or business would.

A distant, aerial view of Miami’s coastline and various tall skyscrapers.

Unincorporated areas fall under county governance but not city

In addition to these cities, there is also a large, unincorporated area, which means that it falls directly under the county itself. This means that all management and governance happen at a single level, and locals vote only for one-tier. There is no city council or local body/organization for decision-making. This also means that the county itself will be managing the services and fulfilling the roles that a municipality or city government would offer. As mentioned above, this includes everything from tax collection to police protection and more.

 Structure of the organization of governance for the county

Miami Dade County’s government structure is mainly comprised of representation at different levels. You have the Executive Mayor, whose position is currently filled by Daniella Levine Cava, who is elected into office through a countywide vote. The mayor cannot belong to the commission and has the power to veto their decisions. Additionally, the mayor must elect a County Manager who is also privy to being removed by both the Commission and the Mayor.  

Then there are elected officers, including the Miami-Dade County Attorney's Office, County Clerk, Clerk of the Board, Inspector General, and Property Appraiser.

Lastly, there is the Miami-Dade Board of Commissioners which is responsible for the management of unincorporated areas. One commissioner is elected from each of the 13 districts, including prolific members such as Chairman Pepe Diaz.

Learn more about the county, different cities, and communities that are around you through our publication. Subscribe to our newsletter for a wide range of information, including news, events, and much more from around Miami-Dade.

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