Miami Gardens council members on Wednesday unanimously approved the city’s budget for the coming year.
The major changes in the new budget include increasing the city’s tax rate to $6.90 per $1,000 in taxable home value, from the current rate of $6.30, and hiring 10 police officers after a year of multiple shooting incidents in the city, including the shooting of a 19-year-old on Sept. 21.
The budget will also eliminate eight city positions including the assistant community center manager and three planning and zoning staff members.
Eliminating the positions, and changing one full-time position to two part-time positions, will save the city about $434,000. Those savings combined with the increased tax rate will help balance the city’s budget after a 4.8 percent decline in property tax value, which had the city $2 million in the hole when the budget process began earlier this year.
The new police officers will bring the force up to 222 officers, an improvement City Manager Danny Crew sees as slow but steady progress.
“I’m glad we were able to add the 10 police officers, we added ten last year,” Crew said. “But we need about another 40 policemen. It takes five policemen to work a full twenty-four hour shift.”
The city will also add four new employees including a janitor and a facility manager for the new City Hall building, at Northwest 27th Avenue and 185th Terrace, which is expected to open either next month or in November.
Crew, who will be leaving his position when his contract expires Oct. 1, said that as the city moves forward he feels comfortable about its financial standing.
“When I first got here [in 2003] we were about $11 million in debt, and now we have about $11 million in reserves,” Crew said. “We’re ready to move into the next phase.”