A divided Doral council approves budget

The Doral City Council last week gave final approval to the city budget and tax rate for the 2014-15 fiscal year, which began Wednesday.

Council members agreed to keep the property-tax rate the same as last year’s, at $1.93 per $1,000 of taxable property value, giving Doral one of the lowest municipal tax rates in Miami-Dade County.

The owner of a home assessed at $193,000 would pay about $279 in city property tax, a $4 increase from this year, assuming the owner qualifies for the standard homestead exemption and the home’s assessed value increased by 1.5 percent, the maximum allowed this year for an owner-occupied home.

The votes, for both the tax rate and the budget, were 3-2, with Vice Mayor Christi Fraga and Councilwoman Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera voting no.

During the council’s Sept. 24 meeting, members agreed to add $2.5 million to the budget, funds that will go toward bringing Miss Universe to Doral.

The original proposed budget was $55.2 million, according to a memo to city council members from City Manager Edward Rojas outlined how the new expense brings the new finalized budget to $57.7 million.

Fraga said she disagreed with the budget because she wanted to see the funds go elsewhere.

“I think there are better ways to utilize those funds,” Fraga said Wednesday. “There was never an action plan that detailed how the $2.5 million will impact the residents and business owners. I could not stand in front of a resident and justify those funds.”

Claudia Spangaro Mariaca, a longtime Doral resident spoke up at the meeting, telling council members to “think about the future of this City, not just the future of your seats in the Council.”

“This Budget is absurd. I do not believe that this budget represents in good faith the needs or wants of the majority of this city,” Mariaca said. “You are elected officials to serve the people, however your recent actions have shown that you seem to act despite of the people.”