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Miami Springs

Failure to broadcast key budget meeting upsets residents

 

Special to the Miami Herald

Miami Springs has not been able to upload a Jun. 24 council meeting about its budget, a pending lawsuit and other matters via its city website.

Some of the meeting’s highlights include:

• a recently filed lawsuit that could halt the city’s plans to annex land and increase taxes;

• a report showing a projected budget deficit of nearly $600,000;

• spending $250,000 for new luxury golf carts.

“They (city leaders) feed the residents the information as they see what will benefit them,” said Rosie Buckner, who said she feels the city has some explaining to do. “They paint what they want the residents to believe to be the truth.”

Only a few residents attend city council meetings, while many others choose to watch them online via the city’s website. This allows them to rewind, note key points and then sound off.

“There should be some official explanation regarding why the meeting is not available to the residents,” said Mel Johnson, a former council candidate who monitors and posts his thoughts on a local “bulletin board.” “They have put previous meetings up expeditiously.”

The city claims that this is a matter beyond its control.

"It appears it may be a technical issue with the provider LiveStream," wrote City Manager Ron Gorland in an email to the Miami Herald.

The city has a public-access franchising agreement with Comcast to video-record council meetings, according to Gorland, who added that the city is then responsible for uploading the content.

Many residents do not subscribe to Comcast and rely on the city to upload the videos to view from its website.

“We use LiveStream for all webcast recording, and Comcast only provides the audio-visual feed during taping,” Gorland said. “Our backup is to get the disk from Comcast and convert it, and then feed it to LiveStream, which we are in the process of doing.”

An official with LiveStream said that the system is working fine and that it appears that no attempts were ever made to upload the June 24 city council meeting.

As of July 8, the meeting webcast is still unavailable.

Residents who want to gauge how the city is spending its money say they feel that the city is acting unfairly as budget season approaches and the annexation fight kicks into high gear.

“The land involved in the [annexation] lawsuit is very valuable property,” Johnson said. “It has a strip mall, a McDonald’s, a Wendy’s and a truck rental place that has been there for years.”

Johnson is referring to land the city seeks to annex west of the airport that would increase the average property owner’s taxes, in that district, by about $5,000, county records show.

“These discussions and deliberations should be readily available to the residents on the city website."

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