After months of deliberations and town hall meetings, North Miami’s city council made a decision on how it will spend millions of dollars the city received from the Biscayne Landing deal.
The $17.5 million cash infusion will help pay for the rehab and possible expansion of the city’s aging library, new cars for the police department and a beautification project along Northwest 7th Avenue among a list of other projects the council approved on Tuesday.
But not all of the money is being spent.
The city will set aside $11.9 million in reserves. Of the reserve amount, $3.5 million has been earmarked to restore employee’s salaries after they saw losses a few years ago when the city cut salaries and implemented furlough days to stay in the black.
Councilwoman Marie Steril called on the elected officials to sop “playing politics” on Tuesday and to finally make a decision on what has been in ongoing discussion for months.
“We have a city to run, we know what we need to do,” she told her colleagues on the dais. “ Let’s just do what we were elected to do.”
A number of social agencies and non-profit groups have come to the city to ask for grants and monetary contributions from the Biscayne Landing cash. Steril said the money should mostly be spent on substantial tangible projects for residents.
If there is any money left over from the city projects, the council agreed it will then decide on a process to accommodate nonprofit groups
At times, the discussion turned into a tug-of-war for funding to be equally distributed to projects on opposite sides of the city.
When Steril proposed one million dollars for a facade and beautification project on Northwest 7th avenue, which is in her district, Councilman Michael Blynn said his district on the east side of the city also deserved $1 million for projects.
“If you want to spend one million on seventh avenue, you have to spend one million in Sans Souci and the East side too. Otherwise it’s not fair,” he said.
In other city business, North Miami passed a resolution to stop ticketing drivers who make a right turn at red lights. North Miami Mayor Andre Pierre said residents who make a legal right turn at red lights often trip up the red light cameras and the driver receives a ticket in the mail.
Savvier residents know if they challenge the ticket in court it will likely get dismissed, but residents who don’t know to challenge are left to pay the fine, he said.
“We need to fend for these people who really don’t know,” Pierre said.