Miami Gardens - Opa-locka

Miami Gardens approves budget, tax rate

Miami Gardens approved the city’s budget and tax rate for the 2014-15 fiscal year Monday night.

The city was able to include funding to bring back the Miss Miami Gardens pageant and to add a new City Council assistant position. City staff chose to make a part-time staff person full-time which increased the impact of that salary by about $49,000. The new assistant was suggested mainly by Councilman David Williams. The six council members now share two assistants.

The organizers of Miss Miami Gardens will receive $20,000 from the city to fund bringing back the pageant which has not been held since 2011.

The council also decided, at the City Council meeting, to provide $1,000 of funding to 12 neighborhood crime watch groups throughout the city in the upcoming budget. After public comment at both the budget hearing and regular meeting, Mayor Oliver Gilbert amended his resolution to include funding for crime watches in the Bunche Park, Coconut Cay, North County and Isabella areas.

The original item had funding for the Norwood, Brentwood, Scott Lake, Pentecostal Tabernacle and Riverview areas because Gilbert said those groups were active and the budget adjustments made things tough.

“It’s difficult because there’s so little money in this pot,” Gilbert said.

Shortly before the council meeting ended, the City Council voted to also approve funding for the crime watches in the Walden Pond, Lake Lucerne and Vista Verde areas taking the additional request up to $7,000.

City Manager Cameron Benson said the funding will have to come from the original $5,000 that was allocated and through a combination of the council members’ personal $5,000 special events funds and the general special events fund taken from the city’s capital fund.

“There’s still allocations available in the capital fund,” Benson said.

The council also approved the tax rate at $6.93 per $1,000 of assessed property value, which falls in line with last year's rate. But this year, homeowners will pay an additional $1.30 per $1,000 to pay off the city's $60 million general-obligation bond issue.