Miami Gardens - Opa-locka

Opa-locka officially hires city manager, to review recovery plan

David Chiverton is now officially Opa-locka’s new city manager.
David Chiverton is now officially Opa-locka’s new city manager. Miami Herald File

Opa-locka city commissioners weren’t ready to approve the city’s five-year recovery plan on Wednesday but said — given time to review the final draft — they would revisit the item in April, ahead of the plan’s May 1 deadline.

David Chiverton, the acting city manager who was officially hired for the job at Wednesday’s commission meeting, said the city’s cash-flow projections along with an outline of recent attempts to recollect debt will help avert a state financial takeover.

The most pressing issue for the city, Chiverton said, will be managing day-to-day operations from June to the end of the fiscal year in October. Opa-locka’s budget will be $46,000 in the red starting in June –– roughly the monthly mortgage for its government complex on 780 Fisherman St.

Along with money acquired through the city manager’s task force, Opa-locka is exploring increasing the rate that residents are charged for water usage.

“I’ve worked with your staff all day and we crunched the numbers, but everyone who was there understands that there’s a six-month window,” Commissioner Terence Pinder said in support of the increase, counting the days until October and the start of the new recovery plan. “If we’re not going to charge the residents the $6.50, then put $13 on commercial businesses. We need that revenue to survive.”

The Main Item

The new city manager has drafted a letter to the chief inspector general’s office in Tallahassee.

Chiverton’s letter, a response to a memo sent by Miami-Dade County earlier in March, outlines a “debt-mitigation plan” including workforce reductions, an increase in the tax rate for fiscal year 2016-17, an investigation into properties receiving fraudulent tax exemptions and reducing leaks in city pipes. Pinder estimates that it will cost approximately $180 million to repair the leaks.

Pinder and Chiverton have also proposed a 25-cent property-tax rate increase. While Commissioner Joseph Kelley opposed such increases, the success of the city manager’s task force, along with possible workday reductions, will determine how the city will function.

Other Business

▪ Workday reductions: City officials deferred an item where the manager’s office would conduct a study on either a four-day workweek (with 32 hours a week) or a five-day workweek (with 35 hours a week). The commission removed the item from the agenda to replace the word “study” with some form of implantation.

▪ Fiscal austerity: The city passed a resolution to stop extra spending. The item was approved unanimously.

▪ Aiming for transparency: A resolution sponsored by Kelley and Pinder was approved Wednesday that will now require the city manager, attorney and clerk to provide a report to the commission “whenever either of them participates in a meeting with any federal, state or county officials.”

They said it

“I want to make sure from now on that we’re transparent, letting everyone know every step of the way why we are doing things.” –– Commissioner Terence Pinder on the city’s approaching cash shortage

The next meeting

▪ When: April 13

▪ Where: 215 Perviz Ave., Opa-locka