Aventura / Sunny Isles

Aventura

Aventura leaders look to preserve library service

 

Special to the Miami Herald

A new Miami-Dade library will open in Aventura this summer, but city officials worry that the county won’t adequately fund the new branch.

Last September, county commissioners voted to use reserves to avoid laying off 169 library workers and cutting library hours for the 2013-2014 budget year, which runs through Sept. 30. But the solution was only temporary: It left a $20 million hole in next year’s budget to fund the county’s 49 libraries.

The county’s money problems have prompted Aventura to consider a resolution asking the county commission to restore full funding for the library that is being rebuilt at its previous location at Aventura Boulevard and 29th Court. The old building was destroyed in Hurricane Wilma almost a decade ago.

“For the past eight years, the city has housed the library free of charge,” Mayor Susan Gottlieb said at a City Commission workshop meeting Monday. The temporary library currently resides on the second floor of the Aventura Government Center, 19200 W. Country Club Dr.

Aventura city commissioners are scheduled to vote on the resolution on April 1, City Manager Eric Soroka said.

“The resolution is seeking full funding for the staffing, materials and books to make sure the operating hours are adequate to meet the needs of the community,” Soroka said.

Library officials are working on contingency plans for different budgetary scenarios while they await the county commission’s decision, said Sylvia Mora-Ona, assistant director of public services for Miami-Dade Public Library.

“We don’t know what the county commissioners are going to do,” Mora-Ona said. “They have the ultimate say over what services are offered, and they decide the budget.”

County Mayor Carlos Gimenez created a blue ribbon task force of community leaders to find out what library services residents wanted, Mora-Ona said. The task force has been meeting since October. A survey was also issued to learn about residents’ library needs.

Under the current budget, county libraries now have less money for books and computer replacement, Mora-Ona said.

“It does impact the ability to buy materials,” Mora-Ona said. “We are able to take care of emergencies and basic maintenance.”

Whether the county library in Aventura will be fully funded will be decided in September, when the county commissioners vote on next year’s budget, Mora-Ona said.

Aventura residents pay a tax of 17.25 cents per $1,000 in taxable property value to Miami-Dade for library services, in addition to other city and county taxes.

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