Mayor Zavier Garcia called a special meeting on Monday night, Sept. 16 to get assurance from his Miami Springs council that come next Monday (Sept. 23) the proposed budget will get legally passed. A 3-2 vote on the budget at the last regular meeting (Sept. 9) was not in accordance with Florida law, as a 4-1 super majority vote is needed to approve the 7.6995 tax rate.
Councilmen Billy Bain and Jaime Petralanda were the dissenters the first time and if Garcia could not get at least one of them to change their mind, the city would be required to cut another $380,000 from the budget and set the tax rate at 7.2601.
“This is another opportunity to review the budget and iron out any concerns,” said Garcia. “The 3-2 vote last Monday was OK. As long as we vote 4-1 next Monday we will be in compliance with state law, but I would like to see a 5-0 vote.”
After another go-around with Curtiss Mansion Inc. (CMI) to answer questions about their finances and their need for $35,000 next fiscal year, along with a long discussion on options regarding the pool, Garcia took to the blackboard. He stood up and scribbled numbers while vehemently defending the proposed budget, saying, “We’ve done good, gentlemen, but we don’t want to be penny wise and pound foolish!”
Garcia asked Petralanda first and then Bain if they would like to discuss changing any line items in the budget, and if not, whether he could count on them for a “yes” vote on Monday. This special meeting would have been over immediately had one of them said they would change their vote. Neither did.
Petralanda said he needed more time to think about it and wanted to go through the numbers one more time before making a decision. Bain was adamant in saying he wanted to reduce the tax rate through further cuts but stopped short of saying he would vote “no” again next Monday night.
Garcia pressed Bain on what specific line items he would like to reduce so the council could be prepared to act on those come Monday night, but Bain did not disclose any and said, “If you have the 4-1 vote, let’s all just go home.”
Garcia, City Manager Ron Gorland, and City Attorney Jan Seiden were clearly frustrated with the lack of support for a budget that had been worked on by staff and the council since June. With Monday’s final public hearing and a Sept. 30 deadline to approve a budget, there is little time to make major changes.
“If we don’t pass a budget on Monday night, we will have to come back the next night, and the next, until we do,” said Garcia.