River Cities

Miami Springs Senior Center beneficiary of large state grant

The Miami Springs City Council held a short meeting on Monday night but long enough to allow State Senator Rene Garcia to attend and present a large check for the Miami Springs Senior Center.
The Miami Springs City Council held a short meeting on Monday night but long enough to allow State Senator Rene Garcia to attend and present a large check for the Miami Springs Senior Center.

With the police and pool issues settled, the regular Miami Springs council meeting Monday was one of the shortest in history, as Mayor Zavier Garcia banged the gavel to close the meeting less than 45 minutes after the 7 p.m. start. But there was time for State Sen. Rene Garcia to make a special presentation and former Golden Hawks star Ralph Perez to get his way.

Garcia came to the meeting to officially give almost $100,000 to the Senior Center, in the form of a grant that he got for Miami Springs at the last legislative session. He gave the giant check for $99,457 to Senior Center Director Karen Rosson. Mayor Garcia (no relation) was quick to commend him for his action.

“It is very difficult to fight for dollars in Tallahassee and everyone wants to thank you for not forgetting about the residents of Miami Springs,” said Mayor Garcia.

Rene Garcia replied, “It is a program that I believe in and taking care of our seniors is a No. 1 priority.”

Another program to help the residents of Miami Springs has been spearheaded by Perez, who was a star player on the undefeated 1993 Miami Springs High School football team. It came to fruition on Monday night, as the council voted unanimously to involve the city in the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program.

Miami Springs becomes the 14th city in Miami-Dade County to offer this financing program through Ygrene, the administrator of the program where Perez works as the regional manager in South Florida.

PACE comes at no cost to the city but offers homeowners the opportunity to make energy-efficient upgrades to their property, financed by 10- or 20-year loans. The yearly cost of the loan is added to the property tax bill and there are few credit requirements, other than having 10 percent equity in your home, no late tax bills, and no recent bankruptcy.

Ygrene is the only company in Florida offering this program and, according to Perez, 140 homeowners in Miami-Dade County already have taken advantage of it, with more than 200 more in the works.

“This is a great program and a great vehicle to allow homeowners to become more energy-efficient, lower energy and insurance bills, and to become more storm-ready,” Councilman Michael Windrem said after the 5-0 vote to join the PACE program.

PACE offers a wide range of qualifying improvements and there are other benefits: the interest rate — now around 6.5 percent — is tax-deductible, the loan has no effect on credit, and the value of the property increases.

Perez expects the program to be up and running in Miami Springs within a few months and those who take advantage early will not see a payment due until their 2015 tax bill arrives next year. For questions or more information on the PACE program, call Perez at 305-569-0015 or email him at rafael.perez@ygrene.us.

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