Miami Gardens - Opa-locka

Miami Gardens to consider body cameras in upcoming budget

Miami Gardens City Hall
Miami Gardens City Hall

Miami Gardens will consider adding body cameras for police officers in the upcoming budget after discussing the technology at a recent budget workshop.

The discussion and costs remain preliminary and City Manager Cameron Benson said staff is identifying potential funding sources. Staff is considering the use of a portion of some of the city’s $60 million general obligation bond, general fund money or other grants.

“We believe, given the technology aspect, we may be able to use some of the bond money for the cameras to go with the real-time crime center,” Benson said.

About $10 million of the city’s bond money was set aside for police technology and to build the crime center in police headquarters. Benson said they have to confirm if that money can be used for the cameras.

Staff estimates that each camera will cost about $2,000 to $2,500. Staff plans to calculate the costs for maintenance and storage and report a more complete estimate to the council by September.

Mayor Oliver Gilbert said he wants to see the technology and would support phasing in the cameras to reduce the initial budgetary impact.

“I think that having body cameras on officers affects people, the person that’s being watched and the officer, I think that everybody behaves better when the cameras are on,” Gilbert said.

If the program is implemented, Miami Gardens police will join the Miami-Dade and Miami Beach police departments in adopting the technology.

The city council also approved a preliminary tax rate Wednesday that is the same as the past two fiscal years and homeowners will pay about the same amount in property taxes as they did last year.

The tax rate will be about $6.93 per $1,000 of assessed property value. The recommended rate will still require final approval and can be lowered before the 2016-17 budget is approved but it’s unlikely that the rate will increase.

A resident with a home valued at about $83,000, the median assessed value from the property appraiser’s office, will pay about $233 in property taxes — about the same amount as last year. That amount assumes that the owner qualified for the standard homestead exemption, and the home’s assessed value rose by 0.7 percent, the maximum allowed by law this year for owner-occupied homes.

In addition to property taxes, residents will pay about $1.15 per $1,000 in debt service as residents continue to pay for the city’s $60 million general obligation bond. That adds up to about $39 in debt service payment.

There will be two public hearings for residents to give their input on the city’s proposed budget which includes about $68 million in operating funds. The meetings will take place 6 p.m. on Sept. 13 and Sept. 28 at City Hall, 18605 NW 27th Ave.

Homeowners will also receive a letter known as a “TRIM notice” in August giving them their proposed tax rate and hearing dates. The letter also includes proposed tax rates for Miami-Dade County, the school board and other local agencies.

Lance Dixon: 305-376-3708, @LDixon_3