Miami Gardens - Opa-locka

Miami Gardens postpones vote on community development funding

At its meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 9, the Miami Gardens City Council decided to delay voting on allocating community development funds, approved an item introducing fines for marijuana possession and an ordinance to strengthen security plans at city strip clubs.

The main item

Miami Gardens delayed voting on issuing new community development block grant money after discussion of funding a senior feeding program created an impasse for the council.

The council voted to postpone a decision on funding eight programs to see if the grant funds can be divided in a different way.

Staff recommended providing $60,000 in funding for the Sunshine for All program, which would be a $20,000 decrease from last year’s CDBG allocation. A little more than a dozen residents who use the service showed up to Tuesday’s meeting and pleaded with the council to keep the service funded at last year’s level.

The program provides hot meals five days a week to about 60 residents. Without the additional $20,000, the company estimates it will have to cut 16 people from the program.

I understand that we need to spread the love but not at the expense of our elderly residents.

Miami Gardens Councilman Erhabor Ighodaro

Councilman Erhabor Ighodaro was adamant in his support of the group and suggested using general fund money to help the group reach last year’s total.

“I understand that we need to spread the love but not at the expense of our elderly residents,” Ighodaro said.

Mayor Oliver Gilbert said that the decrease in funding was not personally directed at the group but is just part of the process. He said council members annually make recommendations for new organizations they want to see funded.

“Either we’re going to fund the same groups or we’re going to add new people,” Gilbert said.

The CDBG funds are allocated to the city every year by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. The city received about $1 million for the 2015-16 fiscal year.

City staff presented a plan to move funding around from other groups to give Sunshine for All at least $70,000 in funding. The council will consider the item again at its next meeting.

Other business

▪ Marijuana fines: Miami Gardens gave tentative approval to an ordinance that changes how the city deals with misdemeanor marijuana possession by allowing police to give a $100 fine instead of arresting the violator. The change would only apply to people possessing 20 grams or less, a little less than an ounce.

Similar ordinances were passed earlier this year by the Miami-Dade County Commission and the city of Miami Beach.

In their report, city staff said the change was suggested as a mutual benefit for the city and potential offenders.

“The person will avoid a criminal penalty for the offense and the city will recognize an increase in revenue,” the staff report said.

Violators will have a 10-day window to request an appeal of the fine. The ordinance requires a second vote before it’s officially approved.

▪ Strip club security: The council gave initial approval to an item that would place stricter security requirements on Miami Gardens strip clubs.

The change indicates that businesses must clearly post their alcohol policies, have plans for security and off-duty police detail and allow the city to potentially restrict operating hours and impose other rules.

The item comes nearly two months after security guard David Hilbert was fatally shot outside the Mint Lounge strip club near the city’s municipal complex.

The next meeting

▪ When: 7 p.m., Sept. 23

▪ Where: Miami Gardens City Hall, 18605 NW 27th Ave.