In a campaign to promote the use of cryptocurrencies, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez has proposed to pay city workers and collect taxes using Bitcoin. According to a resolution that was passed by it’s governing commission, the mayor wants to also grant city workers the choice to either receive a portion or their entire pay in Bitcoin. Moreover, the mayor has proposed to allow people to pay a portion or all of their property taxes and city fees in Bitcoin.
Courting Silicon Valley
Mayor Suarez is certainly not one to shy away from considering and promoting new ideas. In fact, in late 2020, Suarez began engaging with technology investors from Silicon Valley via Twitter. His efforts to draw them to Miami became a viral hit online.
Within the resolution, Suarez recognized that Bitcoin was becoming “an increasingly popular asset for people, corporations, and major investors.” These efforts are ultimately part of a larger plan, and that is to turn Miami into a city that “embraces new technologies.”
Suarez is also looking into investing a certain amount of government funds into Bitcoin. It is unclear how much would be possible. Especially since Florida has statutes that place strict limitations on how governments at the local level can invest any excess funds. Also, in spite of Bitcoin’s infamous volatility, Suarez is undisturbed by it. He believes that Miami, “is committed to promoting the emergence of Bitcoin as it continues to gain mainstream acceptance.”
Even though Suarez’s “Twitter campaign” has garnered much attention, the mayor does not control the budget, the municipal workforce, or is allowed to vote on the commission. Although there was an initiative launched in order to be granted more “managerial power”, these efforts largely failed.
Proceeding With Caution
Although the resolution gained a 4 to 1 approval, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will take immediate reaction, rather, they have agreed to “study the practicality of such steps”.
Certain city commissioners advised against adopting Bitcoin without a careful study of its risks. Manolo Reyes, a city commissioner, had this to say:
“Let’s analyze this before we jump in. Maybe you’re ahead of your time, maybe you’re right, but let’s analyze it.”
The Vice-Chairman of the city commission’s Ken Russell, states that he is “certainly not opposed” to the concept of integrating Bitcoin into the city’s business, but that it was critical to make sure “we all know what we’re getting into.”
He goes on to say:
“What needs to be done is diligence, and not just from the legal perspective. It’s not just a currency, it’s a concept.”
In spite of Bitcoin’s extreme price volatility and its ties to cybercrime, some major innovators are biting the bullet and investing in this virtual currency. The world’s leading electric car maker, Tesla, Inc. has announced its investment of $1.5 billion in Bitcoin. Time will tell if more companies will follow suit.