Cops Keep Jobs And Library Service Expands In Miami-Dade Budget Town Hall

Sep 3, 2014

Carlos Gimenez surprised residents at a town hall in Miami Gardens with more resources than previously reported in the Miami-Dade budget.
Credit Emily Michot / Miami Herald

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez was interrupted by applause more than once as he laid out the $6.2 billion budget to a crowd of about 150 at the sixth and final town hall in Miami Gardens. 

Fire services would remain intact, Gimenez says. No cops would lose their jobs. The grass would be cut on time and county library services would actually be expanded.

North Dade Regional Library, where the town hall took place, will now go from 48 hours-a-week to 56 hours-a-week and will also open on Sundays.

Gimenez says Miami-Dade has turned a financial corner and this no-new-taxes budget is the basis of a forecast of balanced budgets for the next five years.

What turned things around? Redirected revenue from the hotel bed tax, concessions on health insurance from the county unions, even a surprising profit from the sale of surplus county helicopters.

Residents came to the town hall afraid for what they might lose. Now, they felt free to ask for more county services. Attendees shared why they wanted more and better libraries, improved sewer and water lines, facilities for the homeless and additional parks.

The county commission takes up the budget on a first reading Thursday.