Local 10 investigation prompts free parking for Miami-Dade jurors
Commissioner credits Local 10 for bringing issue to county's attention
There was no opposition and no discussion Tuesday as Miami-Dade County Commissioners voted unanimously to approve free parking for jurors.
The vote follows a Local 10 investigation that showed Miami-Dade was the only county in the state to charge jurors to park.
The free parking will begin October 1st, which is the next fiscal year.
"When I found out from a news station that Miami Dade County was the only county in the state that charges jurors to park, I immediately knew I had to do something about that," said County Commissioner Lynda Bell to the other commissioners on the dais.
Since November, Bell has been working with the Clerk's Office and Mayor's Office on the fiscal impact and logistics. She said Local 10's report on the fees is what inspired her proposal.
The free parking also includes Metrorail and bus stations.
Miami-Dade County has been making hundreds of thousands of dollars charging jurors to park.
It's $5 a day, but if you leave for lunch and come back, you are charged another $5.
Jurors who are assigned to trials that last for weeks -- and sometimes months -- say it's costing them hundreds to serve.
"I always felt it was a terribly unfair burden. When you look around the entire state there isn't another county that is charging jurors for parking," said Miami-Dade Clerk of the Courts Harvey Ruvin.
Ruvin says he's been trying to get to this point for years, but there was always an obstacle.
"We tried 7 or 8 years ago. That failed," he said.
Jurors will be mailed a parking pass and directions to the free lots with their jury summons.
"It's about a $170,000 impact in our general funds, but it's the right thing to do," said Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez. "If you are serving us and doing your civic duty, you should at least get free parking,"