MIAMI-DADE COUNTY

We can make ‘worst-case scenario’ county budget less painful

 
 
MCT
MCT
Campanario / MCT

www.miamidade.gov

I want to set the record straight regarding my proposed budget for fiscal year 2014-15. When I was elected mayor, I promised to restore fiscal responsibility to our government and put Miami-Dade County on a sustainable path. For too long, the county has governed from budget crisis to budget crisis, and we have put an end to that.

This proposed budget is a worst-case scenario. Although it maintains the same number of police officers in our communities, it includes painful cuts. My administration will however, continue fighting for a better budget that would be possible with concessions from our labor unions.

The budget I’m ultimately fighting for will not result in major layoffs, eliminates fare increases and funds our community’s shared priorities while making government more efficient without raising overall tax rates.

We have set the foundation for future sustainable budgets. In fact, this is the first budget in a decade that does not rely on one-time revenues to fund operations and the first that presents a five-year forecast of balanced budgets. We keep the overall operating millage flat, even with a shift in millage rates to allow us to keep all libraries open the same number of hours, including new Sunday hours at regional libraries.

Earlier this year, the County Commission overrode my veto and eliminated a 5-percent healthcare contribution that county employees had been making. At that time, I repeatedly warned the commission and the unions that returning this contribution would create large gaps in the current fiscal year, and an even deeper one for our 2014-15 budget.

Adding to that, most of the concessions made by the labor unions are set to expire on Sept 30. And, while we very much appreciate the hard work of these dedicated county employees, many of the union demands are for salaries and benefits that are unsustainable, would require tax increases and may even be better than those in the private sector.

If our ongoing labor negotiations are successful, we could largely avoid cuts and significantly decrease the number of positions that are slated to be eliminated, including the sworn positions in the police department and in our libraries.

This budget reflects the reality that no matter how much we achieve in savings, if unions continue to demand and expect higher wages and benefits, there will be less money to fund our shared priorities. It’s that simple. Instead, we are asking for the unions to place service before self by helping us craft a sustainable budget with reasonable benefits.

The budget process is far from over. In the coming weeks, my staff and I will be meeting with individual commissioners to discuss funding priorities, as well as holding a series of town-hall meetings so that we can hear from residents.

I look forward to continuing to share my vision of Miami-Dade County as a leading global metropolis with vibrant neighborhoods and a diverse and engaged community with a robust and sustainable economy. Despite our challenges, I believe that Miami-Dade’s best days are ahead of it.

Learn more about the county’s budget by visiting www.miamidade.gov/budget.

Carlos Gimenez is Miami-Dade County mayor.

Read more Other Views stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
 <span class="cutline_leadin">GAZA DESTRUCTION:</span> Palestinians sit amid the rubble of a building this week while attending a “victory rally” organized by the military wing of Hamas.

    MIDDLE EAST

    People of Gaza must be helped

    Now that the guns have fallen silent, leaders of Israel and Hamas are busy trying to convince their respective peoples that they emerged victorious from this 50-day war.

  •  
 <span class="cutline_leadin">LEADERSHIP CHALLENGE:</span> The rise of a terrorist state in the Middle East may be the defining crisis of President Obama’s presidency.

    WHITE HOUSE

    Obama too detached to lead?

    Having once served a president, I don’t begrudge any president a vacation. There is, in fact, no escape from this relentless job. A change of scenery does not involve a change in responsibilities, or even a release from the essence of the president’s routine.

  •  
REGALADO

    IMMIGRATION/EDUCATION

    Up close and personal with migrant children in Dade school

    This year, on the first day of the academic calendar, I kicked off the day at Francis Tucker Elementary in Coconut Grove donating book bags and supplies to excited kindergartners in this historic and economically fragile neighborhood of the City of Miami.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category