Miami Gardens - Opa-locka

Miami Gardens leaders have money on their mind

Miami Gardens City Hall
Miami Gardens City Hall

Miami Gardens leaders who started the budget process for 2016-17 during a workshop Wednesday said they expect an increase in the new budget without having to raise the tax rate.

The city plans to give a 2 percent cost of living increase to employees and intends to hire three new staffers for the city’s real-time crime center in the new police headquarters. Staff has also proposed keeping the tax rate the same as the last three years, at about $6.93 per $1,000 of assessed property value. Residents will also have to pay a debt service of about $1.15 per $1,000 of assessed property value because of the city’s general obligation bond.

The city had about a 7 percent increase in property value according to a July 1 Miami-Dade Property Appraiser’s office report. City Manager Cameron Benson hasn’t indicated a need for any major layoffs or cuts to services. In recent budgets the city eliminated a city engineer position and also outsourced the planning and zoning department.

$68 million Preliminary estimate of 2016-17 operating budget

Benson anticipates an operating budget of about $68 million. He made preliminary 2 percent cuts to each department’s budget requests in an effort to control costs but said the city might revisit those requests when staff has a final figure on projected revenue for the new year.

“We’re trying to avoid beefing up areas where we don’t have as much of a need,” Benson said.

The City Council also discussed potentially bolstering the number of council assistants. The six council members, excluding the mayor, currently share three aides and want to increase that number to six. Staff estimated that cost for all six positions would be about $228,000.

The city’s public affairs department also plans to reorganize priorities for city events to avoid overspending.

“Whatever the budgeted amount is [for an event], stick to it,” Mayor Oliver Gilbert said.

The city’s next budget workshop will take place at 6 p.m. July 27 at Miami Gardens City Hall, 18605 NW 27th Ave.

Lance Dixon: 305-376-3708, @LDixon_3