Letters to the Editor

County’s $88 million furniture expenditure is smart planning

Re Joe Cardona’s May 30 column, “Why did the county need $88 million in furniture?”: The $88 million covers an eight-year period for all 25 county departments, employing more than 26,000 people in our community.

Over the eight-year term, the furniture contract is a small percentage of the total budget expenditures, representing $11 million annually out of the county’s $7 billion budget. The county’s projected spending on furniture is also 50 percent less than it was under the previous contract.

Because Mayor Carlos Gimenez is committed to fiscal responsibility, he has directed departments to be frugal in their purchases to reduce expenditures in the long term. Many offices, including the mayor’s, are furnished with re-purposed furniture from other county buildings. This contract allows the county to purchase resilient, commercial-grade furniture that lasts many years and withstands wear and tear.

Much of the furniture in county offices, including Government Center, is original to the building and more than 30 years old.

The major contract allocations over the next eight years are planned for customer and resident use across different departments. To put it in perspective, once the required renovations and new facilities noted below are accounted for, the remaining allocation is substantially reduced.

At Miami International Airport, the majority of planned furniture purchases are for checkpoint stations, terminal seating, hotel rooms, ticket counters and workstations at an airport that served 45 million passengers from around the world last year.

At the seaport, furniture purchases are planned for installation after the completion of two new cruise terminals that serve passengers directly, such as terminal seating, ticket counters and workstations necessary for onsite regulatory agencies.

The Library Department plans to renovate 35 library branches in the coming years and planned ahead for furniture purchases that will serve families across this community.

The allocation for the Internal Services Department is the largest on the contract, but includes projections for large capital projects, such as a potential new civil courthouse with an estimated $15 million for furniture, which is half of the allocation, and a community resource center.

In short, the county has been, and continues to be, a responsible steward of taxpayers’ dollars. In doing so, the county responsibly makes expenditures only as necessary to equip each department with furniture to fulfill its operations in service to our 2.7 million residents.

Tara Smith, director, Internal Services Department, Miami-Dade County