The push for Miami-Dade to raise its library tax and reverse years of cuts gained the support of a county commissioner on Wednesday.
Xavier Suarez, whose district includes South Miami and Coconut Grove, issued a statement Wednesday endorsing a $64 million budget for the library system. That level of funding would require the tax rate to essentially double, from $17 for every $100,000 of a property’s assessed value to about $34. Miami-Dade’s Library Advisory Board proposed the $64 million budget in a meeting Wednesday, and Suarez issued his statement endorsing the spending plan.
Library advocates hope to line up more public support from commissioners and pressure Mayor Carlos Gimenez to propose the higher tax without first sending it to voters in a non-binding referendum. Gimenez said he would require the “straw poll” before endorsing any tax increase, and has cited concerns about high personnel costs for a county agency where the average librarian earned about $60,000 last year.
Because of cuts in 2010 and 2011, Miami-Dade’s library tax currently generates about $30 million a year. Cash reserves let the system spend about $50 million this year, but library administrators released a plan last week to cut more than 50 percent of the system’s full-time positions without more revenue once the next budget cycle begins Oct. 1.
In his statement, Suarez said he wants to “restore the Miami-Dade Public Library System at least partially back to its glory days.”
— DOUGLAS HANKS