Hialeah gets $2.6 million in state budget



Florida’s new 2014-15 budget has set aside $2.6 million for Hialeah to extend programs to help the city’s elderly people, educational projects and emergency aid, officials said Tuesday.

From these funds, $898,000 will go to programs that serve meals to low-income elderly people. The programs currently serve 1,400 people daily at 13 dining halls managed by Hialeah Housing Authority.

Julio Ponce, the housing authority’s executive director, highlighted the increase of $148,000 for the meals program for the 2014-15 fiscal year.

“It’s a special day because with these funds we can help many more people in Hialeah,” Ponce said. “There is pride in our authorities working hard to get more funds to help people who need it so much.”

Ponce said the extra state money would pay for about 28,500 additional hot meals for approximately 150 new diners yearly.

Also, the state assigned $1 million to expand the Hialeah Educational Academy high school, 2590 W. 76th St. The mayor’s chief of staff, Arnie Alonso, said the funds would allow construction of six to eight new classrooms.

“This is a big accomplishment for the school and the city because we currently have a waiting list of approximately 500 students,” Alonso wrote in an email to el Nuevo Herald.

The state also granted $750,000 to build the Hialeah Emergency Operations Center. Alonso said it would be located behind the city’s police headquarters, and include services for Miami Springs, Virginia Gardens, Doral, Hialeah Gardens, Medley, Miami Lakes and Opa-locka.

Gov. Rick Scott signed the $77 billion state budget on Monday. It is the largest in Florida history, with hundreds of millions of dollars appropriated for popular projects in an election year.

When Miami Herald reporters asked Scott — who last year vetoed funds for several projects — whether his “new generosity” was a reflection of this being an election year, he responded: “My focus is on what is best for taxpayers.”

State Rep. Eddy González, R-Hialeah, highlighted the allocation of funds for key projects to his hometown.

“All of these projects are important to Hialeah,” González said. “They will allow serving meals to elderly people, improve education and take care of the community in cases of emergency like hurricanes.

González said that in addition to the $2.6 million for Hialeah, almost $80 million was assigned to other projects around Miami-Dade County, including Miami Marine Stadium renovations and programs that serve meals to communities like Little Havana.

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