“When people are breaking into my house and the homes of my neighbors, it’s no longer something that can be tolerated,” Amandi said.
Richard Steinberg, an attorney who lives in the Grove and also asked for more cops, put it bluntly: “I’d like to die here — but not before my time.”
Police and other city employees did make some headway Thursday.
With the city’s finances finally stable after years of shortfalls, commissioners agreed to a one-time 3 percent bonus for all full and part-time employees. Cost to the city: $6.8 million, from a $15 million surplus in this year’s budget. The move requires ratification by the city’s union members and does not affect the city’s 2014 budget, which begins Oct 1.
“This is a promise made, and a promise kept,” said Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones. “They have our backs every single day, and now we have to have their backs.”
The vote passed 4-1 with Sarnoff voting against. The commission chairman said he preferred that the money go toward restoring police benefits. Commissioners Suarez, Carollo, Spence-Jones and Wifredo “Willy” Gort voted in favor.
“We have a crime wave in the city of Miami,” Sarnoff said.
Crime numbers supplied by Orosa don’t seem to back Sarnoff’s claim of rising crime. Overall, according to the chief, crime is down 1 percent in Coconut Grove’s five zones. That didn’t mean much to the crowd that has seen crime rise in certain categories within zones. Larceny is up in some places, and burglaries are up in the South Grove, where Amandi lives.
Commissioners gave preliminary approval to the budget shortly after 10:30 p.m. The spending plan calls for a property tax rate of $8.43 for every $1,000 of taxable property — a small drop from this year’s $8.47. It would translate to a savings of $8 for the owner of a $200,000 home with no homestead exemption.
The plan also calls for city offices and department budgets to remain essentially flat.
The proposed budget plan would add millions to the city’s reserves, to bring it up to $57 million. It increases the police department’s budget by $9 million, to $167.3 million, and keeps the fire department’s budget relatively intact at $99.6 million.
The 25 new officers would bring the police department to the 1,144 level the city believes puts it on sound footing. Sarnoff has argued that the ratio of officers to population significantly trails other major cities like Philadelphia and Atlanta.
City Budget Director Daniel Alfonso, the acting city manager who crafted the spending plan, noted the proposed budget was better than years past, though still flawed. There aren’t enough reserves, and no money for raises, building repairs, new computers or to fix potholes, he said.
“There’s just not enough in the pie to allocate all the reserves we’d like to have,” Alfonso said.