Thursday, July 14, 2011

Miami-Dade County proposed budget released by Mayor Gimenez. Tough choices are ahead as the promised tax cuts will undoubtedly lead to curtailment of certain services. Will one of your priorities be eliminated or reduced?

There are many tough choices ahead for Miami-Dade County.  The process has officially begun now that Mayor Gimenez released the proposed budget (on Wednesday, July 13).  Mayor Gimenez states that this budget is a beginning. This budget will be very unique in that it was prepared by a Mayor in office for just two weeks.  This total proposed budget for 2011-12 is $6.16 billion, down 19 percent from the 2010-11 total of $7.6 billion.

CLICK HERE to view the proposed "budget in brief" online (14 page outline)
CLICK HERE to read the Mayor’s budget message.

The total budget gap presented is $409,000,000.00.  The balancing relies upon $163,000,000 in Service and Revenue adjustment, $135,000,000 in employee concessions, and FRS (Florida Retirement) adjustments of $111,000,000.  Total proposed tax cut is $203,000,000.

A table of proposed reductions is listed on page 13 of the budget in brief outline (link posted above)

Mayor Gimenez states that his top priority has been finding ways to cut property taxes while preserving essential services. This budget cuts taxes by more than $200 million, undoing last year’s rate increases. Nearly 1,300 positions are eliminated in this proposed budget.

Proposals to make up projected shortfalls include: concessions in salary and benefits, including a freeze of longevity payments, merit adjustments, flexible pay, and premium pay; a rollback of the recently implemented 3% cost-of-living adjustment, and an increased contribution by employees towards the cost of health insurance – 10% of salary rather than 5% of salary.

This budget will not be without service consequences.  The public library budget would be hit hard, with 13 libraries closing. Sunday hours and extended evening hours are proposed to be eliminated at the regional libraries.  13 branch libraries would be closed.  The Mayor did not specifically identify which branches are targeted to close. The reductions statement makes reference that the closure proposal would be based on the door counts and geographic proximity to other libraries.

This closure formula may be problematic for the Palmetto Bay/Pinecrest area.  The Palmetto Bay branch library is smaller than either the Coral Reef or Pinecrest Branch libraries and sits within a zone close to both Coral Reef and Pinecrest as well as the South Dade Regional library in Cutler Bay.  Will all make the cut and remain open to serve our South Dade area?

While the cuts are widespread, the mayor has proposed retaining programs that serve senior citizens and children at current levels.

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