North Miami leaders want to see more brick-and-mortar projects and services for residents in the city’s budget.
At the city’s preliminary budget hearing Wednesday, the city’s finance and budget staff were presented with wish lists from council members of projects they would like to see funded in the upcoming budget year.
There were suggestions for a citizens’ breast cancer memorial, programming for the elderly, and live shows for the city’s channel 77.
The council tentatively passed a budget of $58.3 million and a tax rate of $8.10 per $1,000 in taxable property value, the same rate as this year. Longtime homeowners can expect to pay 1.7 percent more in tax because of increased assessed home values.
At the next budget hearing, on Sept. 25, the council can lower the tax rate but cannot raise it.
Councilman Philippe Bien-Aime said he is in favor of the proposed tax rate only if the city will invest more money on capital improvements on the west side.
If not, Bien-Aime said he would request a lower tax rate at the next hearing.
“I don’t mind raising taxes,” he said. “But me personally, I’m not going to vote to raise tax to balance a budget because 55 percent of the budget is for salaries and benefits.
Councilman Scott Galvin agreed the city should seek a way to find more money to spend on upgrading its infrastructure and beautification.
“I’d rather spend on brick-and-mortar projects than spend on salary,” he said.
Among the tweaks Mayor Lucie Tondreau said she’d like to see in the budget is more money for a scholarship program that pays for North Miami residents to attend adult education classes at North Miami High School.
The scholarship program is currently funded at $50,000, Tondreau wants to double that amount. She suggested the city remove $20,000 from the $70,000 budgeted from for the city’s Police Athletic League and find the remaining balance elsewhere in the budget.
“I would like to give more adults more opportunities to go to school,” she said.