North Miami councilman pressing officials about $180K budget overage

A North Miami councilman is pressing officials on how Super Bowl weekend events at a city-owned venue went $180,000 over budget – without informing the elected policy body.

Officials responded the details – including whether the city will be receiving any money back – are still being worked on and will be discussed at an upcoming meeting.

The events at NoMi Red Garden included the Uncle Luke Super Bowl Experience Parties and Concerts on Feb. 1, which consisted of four different dance floors, DJs and food trucks. Tickets ranged from $25 to $500, with a flat-rate parking cost of $40. The city recently agreed to lease the property on Northwest Seventh Avenue for 15 years as a venue for events and to drive economic development in the area.

The budget, however, went over the initial proposed amount, something residents and some members of the council were unaware of until a meeting Jan. 28.

The initial plan, to spend $500,000 dollars for the first phase of rebuilding the property, was approved late December 2019.

Those funds included “cleaning of the project site, draining, underground electrical and plumbing work, a parking lot, and staging the site as a temporary event space to allow for activation with food trucks, music, arts and cultural programming,” according to the city’s official website.

Councilman Alix Desulme said he understood the money included the cost of putting on events as well, but later discovered officials used another $180,000.

When Desulme asked where the money came from at the Jan. 28 meeting, interim city manager, Arthur Sorey III, replied: “From the general funds, sir.”

Desulme said that the concept of the event was good, but there should have been more communication.

“They are supposed to ask the commission for permission first,” said the councilman.

Mayor Philippe Bien-Aime responded that a full accounting from the event will be presented at an upcoming meeting.

City Attorney Jeff Cazeau noted that the council passed a resolution at the end of last year saying that the city manager and attorney could make agreements like this while the city council was on break.

Desulme said that he did not know about the deal.

“I didn’t go anywhere for the holidays,” he said at the council meeting. “I did not meet with anyone, no one asked me.”

Maria Lago is a Brazilian journalism student at Florida International University. She loves writing, reading and taking photos. When she graduates she hopes to work at a newspaper, magazine or work with marketing.