County Mayor Alvarez noted Miami-Dade County provided programs and services to 2.5 million people, rich and poor, across a 2,000 square mile land area; provided clean and safe water to 430,000 customers; public transit services to more than 270,000 riders daily; and maintained nearly 23,000 street lights, 2,700 traffic signals, and more than 3,200 miles of paved roads. In addition, the County conducted elections in over 20 municipalities annually; provided infrastructure projects in 13 County Commission Districts, and provided support to sustain small, local businesses that consequently provided jobs for local residents, Mayor Alvarez noted.
Mayor Alvarez maintained that the County was not responsible for the crises in the housing and banking industries or the increasingly high unemployment rate and more importantly, County Government was neither the problem nor the solution to the growing crises. He pointed out that although the government played a role, the private sector was the driving force behind our economy. Mayor Alvarez further noted his goal was to sustain critical services and programs; to promote economic recovery and growth; and to minimize spending. As proposed, the FY2010–11 budget would bridge a $444 million gap caused by the recession, the steep decline in property values, and the increased cost of doing business rather than by wasteful spending, questionable accounting or poor management practices, the Mayor noted.
Continuing, Mayor Alvarez explained that as proposed, 60 percent of property owners would pay less property taxes; $48 million less property taxes would be collected or a $198 million reduction from the previous year. He also explained that the efforts to balance the budget would require eliminating hundreds of positions, consolidating departments, reducing salaries and benefits, reducing service levels, and adjusting the millage rate. Negotiations with Collective Bargaining Units had resulted in a $224 million decrease in employee salaries and benefits and thus a 10 to 20 percent reduction in their annual income.
Mayor Alvarez noted the County held 21 budget hearings throughout the community to ensure public participation from all residents in the process. He noted steep budget reductions would be necessary to bridge a $444 million gap, and that the proposal to eliminate the County Manager’s Office would only result in a $7 million savings.
Mayor Alvarez urged commissioners to vote their conscience and not to be swayed by threats or scare tactics. He reassured them that as proposed, the budget recommendations were practical, responsible, and realistic and would enable County Government to maintain operations with less funding and a reduced workforce. In addition, it would bridge a $1 billion gap that accumulated over the past four years (SEE MAYOR ALVAREZ’ WRITTEN STATEMENT (EXHIBIT NO. 3).
Upon conclusion of the Mayor’s remarks, Commissioner Edmonson concurred that members of the Commission could not govern under threats or fear tactics. She explained that her decisions on the budget would be in the community’s best interest after hearing from her colleagues, the County Administration, and the constituency.
Chairman Moss concurred with Commissioner Edmonson, noting his decisions would be based on what he believed was right for this community and its residents.
Commissioner Jordan noted she concurred with Chairman Moss and Commissioner Edmonson. She said she would not be intimidated by threats and fear tactics and particularly by the media, who has a responsibility to remain objective and to print—rather than create news. Commissioner Jordan expressed concern that the media appeared to be more interested in pushing a particular point than objectively reporting both sides of the issue(s).
Commissioners Martinez, Gimenez, and Diaz agreed with Mayor Alvarez, and Commissioners Edmonson and Jordan that members of the Board should vote their conscience and not be swayed by scare tactics.
Commissioner Gimenez noted in a democracy, commissioners vote their conscience. He noted he would listen to the public, and his vote would not be a surprise.
Commissioner Sorenson noted the proposed budget recommendations presented by Mayor Alvarez would result in the following:
1) Property taxes would decrease for approximately 55 percent of property owners and five-percent would not see any changes.
2) County government would collect less property tax income in FY2010-11 than it did in the previous year.
3) Most homesteaded property owners would pay less than $200 additional taxes on a home with a median taxable value of $80,000.
Commissioner Sorenson noted many residents were opposed to reductions in service levels or community-based organizations. She noted although the proposed budget would not result in tax increases for the neediest residents, it would result in the elimination of 600 positions and reductions to human service programs and parks. Commissioner Sorenson noted the residents most affected by the rollback rate included long-term homesteaded property owners with homes over $500,000 in value. Commissioner Sorenson noted the residents were responsible for paying taxes to fund roads, traffic lights, fire and police services, performing arts, parks, public transit, and the public health system.
Commissioner Sorenson noted that government could be more efficient and should strive to provide services at a lower cost. She also noted that Miami-Dade County’s millage rate was lower than Dallas, Texas and our budget per capita was lower than San Diego, California, and other governments of similar size. Commissioner Sorenson suggested the media conduct similar research and publish the results to educate the public (SEE COMMISSIONER SORENSON’S WRITTEN STATEMENT (EXHIBIT NO. 4).
In conclusion, Commissioner Sorenson urged her colleagues to listen to the public, to vote their conscience and to make decisions based on the facts and in the best interest of the entire community.
Chairman Moss opened the public hearing on the foregoing proposed ordinances, and the following persons appeared before the Commission:
The following individuals appeared before the Board in support of the roll back rate:
1) Shawn Goler, Unidentified address
2) Ernie Martinez, 6660 Biscayne Blvd. Miami 33138
3) Ron Miller, Unidentified address
4) Robin Reiter, Unidentified address
5) Dia Carter, 1900 Biscayne Blvd., Miami 33020
6) Betsy Kaplan, 2 Grove Isle Drive #1603, Miami 33133
7) Alejandro Casals, 9310 SW 48 Street, Miami
8) Jeanette Collier, 22310 SW 109 Avenue, Miami
9) Jessica Danes, 2405 NW 135 Street, Miami
10) Angee Katee, 3166 NW 60 Street, Miami
11) Eric Henton, 1441 NW 43 Street, Miami 33142
12) Sheila Richardson, 6304 NW 14 Avenue, Miami 33147
13 )Jesus Pineda Chavez, 19350 SW 350 Street, Miami
14) Talib Nashid, 10901 E. Golf Drive, Miami 33138
15) Evan Contrakos, 775 Bella Vista Avenue, Coral Gables
16) Carlos Slagado, 15551 SW 144 Terrace, Miami 33196
17) Sheila Womble, 1818 SW 23 Street, Miami 33145
18) Letty Bassart, 400 SW 2 Street #107, Miami
19) Rayfield McGhee, 19 West Flagler Street, Miami 33130
20) Martha Baker, 18441 NW 2 Avenue, Miami 33169
21) Raul Garcia, 2699 S. Bayshore Drive, Miami
22) Anya Talbot, 5875 SW 74 Terrace #N30, South Miami 33143
23) Bob Brennan, 3074 Kirt Street, Miami 33133
24) Carlene Sawyer, 915 Palmero, Coral Gables
25) Susan Rubio Rivera, 14835 SW 297 Terrace, Miami
26) Angelica Reyna, 1418 E. Mowry Drive, Homestead
27) Trudy Krasovic, 8635 NW 8 Street #107, Miami 33126
28) Catherine Penord, 190 NE 3 Street, Miami 33128
29) Enid Pinkney, 4990 NW 31 Avenue, Miami
30) John Rivera, 10680 NW 25 Street, Miami
31) James Dixon, 10680 NW 25 Street, Miami
32) Dean Kronacher, 14125 SW 320 Street, Miami
33) Anna Obregon, 13961 SW 280 Terrace, Miami
34) Domminick Barbera, 8000 NW 21 Street, Miami
35) Andie Arthur. 14040 Biscayne Boulevard #913, Miami
36) Kit Rafferty, 1671 NW 16 Terrace, Miami 33125
37) Daniella Levine, 860 Jeronimo Drive, Coral Gables 33146
38) Alexis Gullen, 3280 S. Miami Avenue, Miami 33139
39) Marva Lightbourne, 5561 NW 7 Court, Miami
40) Helena Poleo, 275 NE 18 Street, Miami 33132
41) Kametra Driver, PO Box 343446, Florida City 33034
42) Reginald Munnings, 1130 NW 2 Avenue #302, Miami 33136
43) Bruce Rubie, 1351 NE Miami Gardens Drive, North Miami Beach
44) Augusto Saledade, 9445 SW 53 Street, Miami 33165
45) Ray Sullivan, 5101 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach
46) Hannah Baumgarten, 900 Bay Drive #411, Miami Beach
47) Beverly Hilton, 12495 NW 6 Avenue, North Miami 33168
48) Mark Pidal, 10060 SW 77 Court, Miami 33156
49) John Quick, 2525 Ponce de Leon Boulevard #700, Coral Gables 33134
50) Jack Lowell, 185 W. Sunrise Avenue, Coral Gables 33133
51) Harve Mogul, 3250 SW 3 Avenue, Miami 33129
The following individuals appeared before the Board in opposition to the proposed property tax increase or roll back rate:
1) Mayor Micahel Pizzi, Unidentified address
2) Unidentified Speaker, Unidentified address
3) Jorge Reyes, 2804 SW 142 Place, Miami 33175
4) Milton Todd, 16540 SW 77 Avenue, Miami 33157
5) Lida Mari, 16540 SW 77 Avenue, Miami 33157
6) Hernan Santiesteban, 10140 SW 42 Street, Miami
7) Roberto Suarez Panchito, 601 SW 63 Avenue, Miami 33144
8) Gene Beck, 810 NW 28 Street, Miami 33127
9) Esperanza Reynolds, 8465 Menteith Terrace, Miami Lakes 33016
10) Alex Ariano, 8465 Menteith Terrace, Miami Lakes 33016
11) Carole Helene, 431 NW 146 Street, Miami
12) Mariano Cruz, 1227 NW 26 Street, Miami 33142
13) Enrique Enriquez, 6867 SW 62 Terrace, South Miami
14) Lazaro Gonzalez, 820 Granad Grove Court, Coral Gables
15) Eddie Lewis, 9490 NW 1 Avenue, Miami
16) Jorge Rodriguez, 681 NE 2 Place, Hialeah 33010
17) Rosalinda Taylor, 1503 NW 9 Street, Miami 33125
18) Jesus Albernez, 9820 SW 122 Street, Miami 33176
19) Luis Falcon, 3235 SW 58 Court, Miami
20) Eric Braswell, 11979 SW 92 Lane, Miami 33186
21) Miriam Egan, Unidentified address
22) Esperanza Cuevas, 708 SW 97 Court, Miami
23) Patricia Boxmeyer, 9079B SW 133 Court, Miami 33186
24) Ana Abaunza, 7429 SW 106 Court, Miami
25) Hilda Inclan, Unidentified address
The following individuals appeared before the Board in support of restoring funding for Cultural Arts, Community Based Organizations, Parks and other services:
1) Judge Diane Ward, Unidentified address
2) Angelina Rodriguez, 240 E 1st Avenue, #122, Hialeah
3) Albert Machado, 4015 Indian Creek Drive, Miami Beach
4) Roxana Barba, 8505 NW 140 Street #1205, Miami Lakes 33016
5) Santiago Guzman, 9806 NW 2 Avenue, Miami Shores, 33138
6) Xavier Cortado, 3621 SW 3 Avenue, Miami 33145
7) Jeff Berkowitz, 160 Edgewater Drive, Coral Gables
8) Jenni Person, 153 NE 47 Street, Miami 33132
9) Goldy Leverperson, 153 NE 47 Street, Miami 33132
10) Julian Roberson, 2033 NW 42 Street, Miami 33142
11) Lynette Herbert, 12660 SW 189 Street, Miami 33177
12) Rudy Alemany, 12545 SW 34 Street, Miami
13) Susanne Pinedo, 1550 W. 44 Place, Hialeah
14) Jose Jimenez, 17300 SW 292 Street, Miami
15) Linda Schwartz, 1304 NE 104 Street, Miami Shores 33138
16) Nicolle Ugarriza Coogarisa, 5241 Alton Road, Miami Beach 33140
17) Jorge Perez, 315 S. Biscayne Boulevard, Miami 33131
18) Jonathan Mickie, 479 NE 30 Street, Miami
19) Victor Mendelson, 8390 NW 25 Street, Miami 33122
20) Laurie Hill, 8390 NW 25 Street, Miami 33122
21) Ilisa Rosal, 1031 NE 72 Street, Miami
22) Richard Sullivan, 2155 NE 182 Street, Miami
23) Valerie Escobar, 1470 NE 123 Street #1207, North Miami 33161
24) Neftali, Unidentified address
25) Ester Gregori, 2851 NE 183 Street, Miami
26) Athena Sullivan, 2155 NE 182 Street, Miami
27) Jennifer Herrera, 5091 NW 7 Street, Miami
28) Annie Lord, 300 NW 12 Avenue, Miami 33128
29) Maria Jimenez, 1109 NW 8 Avenue, Homestead 33030
30) Maritza Martinez, 29429 SW 159 Court #102, Homestead 33033
31) Ramona Valiente, 121 S. Redland Road #102, Florida City 33034
32) Zoila Mclaughlin, 27011 SW 134 Place, Naranja 33032
33) Ima Brito, 15330 SW 284 Street #41, Homestead 33033
34) Unnamed Speaker, Unidentified address
35) William Holland, 10020 SW 140 Street, Miami 33176
36) Albert Babrina, 10020 SW 140 Street, Miami 33176
37) Camile Merilus, 14815 NW 11 Avenue, Miami
38) Elisha Merilus, 14815 NW 11 Avenue, Miami
39) Loretta Nido, 14140 SW 69 Avenue, Palmetto Bay 33158
40) Dan Sriro, 21102 SW 87 Avenue, Miami
41) Samanthessa Jacobs, 9113 SW 108 Circle Court, Miami 33175
42) Victor Vincent, 980 McArthur Causeway, Miami
43) Eros Perez, 1161 SW 22 Terrace, Miami
44) Patricia Rojas, 7543 SW 158 Court, Miami
45) Opal Winebrenner, 316 NE 26 Terrace, Miami 33137
46) Frank Saavedra, 2805 SW 32 Avenue, Miami 33133
47) Malcom Knowles, 1535 NW 74 Street, Miami 33147
48) Denny Wood, 13000 SW 92 Avenue B-304, Miami 33176
49) Dora Suarez, 15403 SW 75 Circle Lane Apt 204, Miami 33193
50) Alina Interio, 15225 NW 77 Avenue, Miami
51) Alex Rhodes, 3280 S. Miami Avenue, Miami
52) Linda Isabel Morales, 1418 E. Mowry Drive #103, Homestead 33033
53) Micah Robbins, 162, SW 95 Avenue, Miami 33157
54) Guadalupe Menjivar, 11981 SW 224 Street #25, Miami 33170
55) Barbara Stein, 12515 SW 105 Avenue, Miami 33176
56) Claudia Gonzalez, 13665 SW 313 Street, Homestead
57) Levis Torres, 14820 SW 297 Street, Homestead 33033
58) Leonel Bravo, 7317 NW 174 Terrace H-103, Miami 33015
59) Carole Helene, 431 NW 146 Street, Miami
60) Alyce Robertson, 200 S. Bicayne Boulevard, Miami
61) Maria Baeza, 10382 SW 119 Street, Miami
62) Anthony Whitfield, 6112 NW 7 Avenue, Miami
63) Stephanie Sandhu, 6001 SW 70 Street #532, Miami
64) Ruth Torres, 7030 NW 173 Drive #1604, Miami 33015
65) Don Levine, 21355 E. Dixie Highway, Miami
66) Ismaila Rashid, 266 NW 26 Street, Miami 33127
67) Benjamin Navarro, 9390 West Flagler Street #214,
68 )Dorothy Brown-Alfaro, 6600 NW 27 Avenue #104, Miami 33147
69) Reza Djahamsh, 9022 NE 8 Avenue, Miami Shores
70) Ivette Argudin, 13841 SW 36 Street, Miami 33175
71) Christina Brooks, 1321 NW 171 Street, Miami Gardens 33169
72) Erika Brooks, 1321 NW 171 Street, Miami Gardens 33169
73) Rev. Dr. Preston Marshall, Jr., 900 NW 85 Street, Miami 33150
74) Shalanda Rivers, 13875 NW 22 Avenue, Miami
75) Shermeka Abraham, 12205 NW 15 Avenue, Miami
76) Kathleen Elliott, 1060 NW 85 Street, Miami
77) Nelson Hincapie, 1500 NW 12 Avenue, Miami
78) Sonia Ferrer, 3302 NW 27 Avenue, Miami 33142
79) Melisa Lesniak, 7716 SW 56 Avenue #1, Miami 33143
80) Margaret Henderson, 951 Brickell Avenue, Miami
81) Johnny Sanders, 6600 NW 27 Avenue #115, Miami
82) Shirley Richardson, 11237 NE 8 Avenue, Biscayne Park
83) Ernesto Cajina, 3156 SW 25 Terrace, Miami 33133
84) Jonathan Rose, 5 Island Avenue #11E, Miami Beach 33139
85) Hope Owiye, 522 NE 141 Street, North Miami
86) Chris Fernandez, 1456 Washington Avenue #212B, Miami Beach
87) Irene Ballart, 8431 SW 33 Terrace, Miami 33155
88) Kathryn Gaubatz, 2912 Alhambra Circle, Coral Gables
89) Gloria Ulmer, 10441 SW 50 Street, Miami 33165
90) Trini Lora, 9555 N. Kendall Drive #206, Miami 33176
91) Isabella Rosete, 2835 NW 50 Street, Miami 33142
92) Charlayne Thompkins, 20001 NW 63 Avenue, Miami
93) Leroy Jones, 180 NW 62 Street, Miami
Chairman Moss closed the public hearing after no other persons appeared wishing to speak.
Chairman Moss asked the County Administration to provide an overview of the proposed changes to the FY2010-11 budget, followed by a discussion by members of the commission and the presentation of motions.
County Manager George Burgess noted members of the County Administration distributed a memorandum to each commissioner, entitled “Information for Second Budget Hearing – FY 2010-11 Proposed Budget,” dated September 23, 2010, in which he addressed their concerns regarding service level and included the following recommendations: (SEE ATTACHED MEMORANDUM LISTED AS EXHIBIT NO. 2)
In conclusion, County Manager Burgess noted technical budget adjustments for the Capital program were referenced, along with additional informational items, in the report addressing various questions and concerns raised by commissioners at previous meetings. County Manager Burgess said the source of additional funds, other than from carry-over funds and from the library millage rate was $8 million from the Future Services Reserve in the General Fund. He provided an overview of programmatic amendments. He clarified that the specifics of these changes were outlined in the County Manager’s memorandum; and that all of the amendments were achievable within the allocations and the millage rates which have been proposed to the Board.
Ms. Jennifer Glazer-Moon, Budget Director, Office of Strategic Business Management, read the following Scrivener’s errors into the record:
To correct a Scrivener’s error existing on Page 10 of the County Manager’s memorandum in lines 2 and 3 under the heading entitled “Position Adjustments,” to substitute the language “…total number of recommended positions by 215 to 27,571. This is 948 positions less than authorized in FY2009-10…” for the language “… total number of recommended positions by 222 to 27,672. This is 941 positions less than authorized in FY2009-10…”
To correct a Scrivener’s error existing in the table on Page 11 of the County Manager’s memorandum, under Housing and Community Development, to change the Recommended Adjustments from 67 to 72 and to change the Revised FY 2010-11 Proposal from 67 to 72.
To correct a Scrivener’s error existing in the table on Page 11 of the County Manager’s memorandum, under Procurement, to change the Recommended Adjustments from “(1)” to “1”; to change the Revised FY2010-11 Proposal from 90 to 91; to change the Total Recommended Adjustments from 215 to 222; and to change the Total Revised FY2010-11 Proposal from 27,665 to 27,672.
Chairman Moss noted commissioners would now have the opportunity to ask questions to the County Administration and to present their comments for the record.
Commissioner Gimenez questioned County Attorney Robert Cuevas about the FY2009-10 employment contracts.
County Attorney Cuevas responded to Commissioner Gimenez’ question regarding the employment contracts, noting the County Commission had the discretion to declare a financial urgency to revisit these contracts purusant to the State Statutes. He noted; however, that no case law existed to define a financial urgency; that it would be a fact intensive inquiry that would require review by the court and the Public Employee Relations Commission, which would take at least one year to resolve. County Attorney Cuevas noted if the court ruled against the County, the County must reimburse employees for any reductions in salaries, retroactively, which would result in a substantial liability to the County. Mr. Cuevas also advised Commission members that a declaration of financial emergency could impact the County’s bond and credit ratings. He cited the finanical emergency declared by the City of Miami as an example, noting the Police Benevolent Association challenged the City’s action which lead to State oversight. Mr. Cuevas noted, in response to Commissioner Gimenez’ question, the unions would not be probhitited from reopening the contracts.
Commissioner Gimenez noted that if the labor unions reopened the contracts and removed their third year contract provisions voluntarily, the County could reduce the millage by .6027 among the four jurisdictions and save approximately $70 million in taxes. He explained that eliminating this provison would not have any significant impact on employee salaries; and would not result in any tax increases. Commisisoner Gimenez noted it would not be prudent for the County to reopen the contracts in light of the County Attorney’s opinion that the court could rule against the County.
Commissioner Gimenez questioned whether $48 million in Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) funding from the Countywide General Fund could be suspended and reallocated, and if not, whether any legal method to reallocate this funding existed.
County Attorney Cuevas advised that it was possible to suspend CRA funding and to renegotiate existing interlocal agreements with CRAs and the respective cities. He noted State law provided that the tax increment going to a CRA must be applied consistent to the CRA Statute; and that any negotiations to reimburse or withhold revenue would be subject to those provisions. Essentially, Mr. Cuevas explained that the County could not renegotiate interlocal agreements for the purpose of withholding and allocating CRA funding for unauthorized uses pursuant to the Statutes.
Commissioner Gimenez noted he previsously sponsored an ordinance suspending payments to CRAs, but the motion to adopted that ordinance failed. He asked County Attorney Cuevas to prepare a similar ordinance for the Board’s consideration six months after the expiration of his proposed ordinance.
In response to Commisioner Gimenez’ comment that the City of Miami transferrred $8 million from its CRA to the City, County Manager Burgess noted that the City had not yet transferred these funds and that he was monitoring this process closely.
Ms. Glazer-Moon responded to Commissioner Gimenez that she would provide him with the potential cost savings realized from reducing car allowances by half, discontinuating payments for gas and insurance, and discontinuating lease agreements.
In response to Commissioner Gimenez’ question pertaining to uncommitted carryover funds, Ms. Glazer-Moon explained that these funds were allocated in 2009-10 in the Capital Outlay Reserve to particular projects. She noted that those projects were either completed below the anticipated costs or cancelled; thereby freeing up revenue in the Capital Outlay Reserve which could then be allocated to new projects. Ms. Glazer-Moon clarified that uncommitted carryover funds were allocated to new projects and appropriated in the Capital Outlay Reserve for FY2010-11.
County Attorney Cuevas responded to Commissioner Gimenez’ request for clarification regarding the fire fee, noting the reference to the fee was included in the proposed budget memorandum for informational purposes only and as a reminder that the Administration planned to submit a proposal for consideration later.
Commissioner Heyman commended residents of the community for providing input and feedback into the budget process.
County Attorney Cuevas responded to Commissioner Heyman’s inquiry that the inclusion of the fire fee in the FY2010-11 budget would not bind the Board to initiate the process of adopting the fee.
Commissioner Heyman questioned whether approval of the rollback budget and the Fire and Resuce Department using $17 million in FY2010-11 out of their $21 million reserve account was to justify the necessity of adopting the fire fee in the future.
Ms. Glazer-Moon responded that there was a 3 mil limitation on the millage rate for the Fire Rescue Service District. She noted that the FY2011-12 budget would take into account next year’s tax roll and the newly negotiated collective bargaining agreements. Once these variables were addressed, staff would have a better idea of the true cost of delivering the service within the 3 mil cap, Ms. Glazer-Moon noted. She also noted that a distinct funding limitation existed and some other dedicated revenue source in addition to Ad Valorem revenue would be needed to support the Department after next year.
Commissioner Heyman noted that over 3,600 senior citizens lived in District 4 and that low income seniors were the most needy population in terms of government assistance. She requested additional information on assistance available to low income seniors affected by the proposed rate increases.
Ms. Glazer-Moon noted specific details on senior citizen relief efforts were included under the Information Section of the County Manager’s Change Memorandum. She noted that a program offering a $100 grant to senior citizens meeting established eligibility criteria would be presented to the Board by Commissioner Barreiro. Ms. Glazer-Moon noted the grant eligibility requirements were similar to the senior citizen homestead exemption requirements and approximately 36,000 senior citizens would be eligible to participate in the program which would cost approximately $4.6 million.
Commissioner Heyman questioned whether Administration had identified whether any additional vacancies, services or programs could be reduced in the budget or identified any additional revenue.
Ms. Glazer-Moon responded that the allocations delineated in the Change Memorandum came from the Future Services Reserve and identified carry over funding based upon revised projections. She said the tentative millage rates with the library adjustments were needed to fund the proposed budget as amended based upon changes resulting from information provided in the first budget hearing and in this Change Memorandum.
Commisisoner Heyman noted concern about being informed that salary increases would not necessarily mean a tax increase after the negotiation of union contracts. She asked Ms. Glazer-Moon to clarify whether increased taxes were needed considering the County would be saving 8-9 percent by providing employees with salary increases in accordance with the collective bargaining agreements.
Ms. Glazer-Moon noted in addition to savings realized from the collective bargaining agreements, the reductions in employees’ salaries for the term of the agreement must be considered. She pointed out that flex benefits, merit increases, longevity bonuses, premium pay, the cost-of-living increase would be frozen in the first twelve months of the contract period (FY2009-10). In addition, employees would be required to contribute 5-percent towards their health insurance; and that the total sum of these adjustments would equate to a 10 - 20 percent reduction in employees’salaries, depending on their base salary or an 8.5 percent reduction in pay over the two-year period.
Commissioner Heyman noted her initial vote for the rollback rate was based on her understanding, after consultation with the Budget Director, Property Appraiser and County Manager, that the proposed rollback rate would not generate an automatic tax increase. She also noted the tax increase based on the proposed rollback rate was inequitable across-the-board and the amount of taxes paid would depend on the homestead exemption designation, the length of ownership, and the property value; and that it woud not be prudent to burden ressidents with an additional tax increase in the midst of an economic downturn.
Continuing, Commissioner Heyman said that she had often voiced concern that the County Administration was top heavy; employee salaries and benefits were excessive; direct service providers should be retained; and reserve funds needed to be maintained. She also noted it was important for the County to maintain essential services and respond to the needs of the residents, noting the needs of homeowners facing foreclosure, the unemployed, etc., had reached the same level of priority as the low income senior population. Commissioner Heyman noted that although the grant program had been identified to assist the senior population, additional funding was needed to address other community needs.
Commissioner Martinez questioned whether members of the County Administration could guarantee that the federal government would provide sufficient funding to cover a potential shortfall in Head Start program funding pursuant to the verbal statement made by Mr. Jeff Fredericks.
Mayor Alvarez noted Mr. Fredericks made a commitment to bridge any funding gaps in Head Start during his presentation before the County Commission. He noted he and Commissioner Jordan subsequently met with Mr. Fredericks and discussed several Head Start issues including funding; that during discussions with Mr. Fredericks following that meeting, Mr. Fredericks personally guaranteed that the Federal Government would provide funding to bridge the gap in Head Start provided the County implemented the recommendations of the Western Kentucky University study. He also noted that Mr. Fredericks was confident that the County could sustain the Head Start Program in its present form and realize savings through restructuring and reducing the workforce.
Commissioner Martinez expressed concern regarding whether or not Mr. Fredericks would be obligated to fullfill his commitment to Head Start based on a verbal agreement, and questioned the County Attorney whether such an agrement was legally binding.
County Attorney Cuevas noted, for the record, that Mr. Fredericks verbal commitment was not legally binding.
Commissioner Martinez noted concern that Head Start and Early Head Start programs would be adjusted at the end of the school year in the event the savings were not realized as projected and the Department of Health and Human Sevices was unable to make up the funding difference.
County Manager Burgess noted in the original budget recommendations, he indiciated that the school year may need to be reduced from 175 to 165 days if the County was unable to implement the recommendations of the Western Kentucky University study and the commitments made by the regional office remained unfulfilled.
Mr. Lester Sola, Supervisor of Elections, Miami-Dade Elections Department, responded to Commissioner Martinez’s questions about the costs associated with early voting, which he noted was approximately $2,000 - $3,000 per day, per voting site. Mr. Sola explained that the duration of early voting was fifteen days purusant to State requlations, ending on the Sunday before an election.
Concerning the Maintenance of Effort (MOE) funidng for Jackson Memorial Hospital, Commissioner Martinez questioned the rationale for the recommendation to provide the Public Health Trust (PHT) with $679,000 in additional MOE funding in addition to the $945,000 funding adjustment to their capital budget.
County Manager Burgess explained that based on the MOE, the PHT was entitled to $679,000; and the balance, $945,000 would be funded by the PHT’s Capital budget to restore Community Health of South Dade.
Commissioner Martinez questioned the need to increase Water and Sewer retail rates by approximately 23 percent in FY 2011-12 to sustain and maintain daily operations and capital projects, particularly considering efforts underway to streamline operations pursuant to the Consumptive Use Permit (CUP).
County Manager Burgess noted the Water and Sewer rates should be based on the CUP requirements. He noted although consumption levels had decreased due to conservation efforts, it was necessary to increase water and sewer rates to cover debt obligations or the system’s expansion.
In response to Commissioner Gimenez’ inquiry regarding Charter County Transit System proceeds, Ms. Glazer-Moon noted the principal and interest payment would increase by $25 million.
Commissioner Gimenez noted that the net transit revenues for 2013 reflected a $16 million deficit pursuant to an item introduced on September 7, 2010 related to the Sale of Transit System Series 2010 Bonds.
Ms. Glazer-Moon explained that the surtax was only one revenue source used to fund the Tansit Agency and other revenues including the Maintenance of Effort was increased annually to offset the difference in the agency’s budget.
Commissioner Martinez questioned whether the Administration agreed with the information submitted by the Commission Auditor pertaining to position adjustments.
Ms. Glazer-Moon responded that the information presented by the Administration was gathered from a database of long-term vacancies projected to exist at the end of the current fiscal year. She noted that 600 positions were vacant and 150 positions were frozen and targeted for elimination mid-year. Ms. Glazer-Moon said that approximately half of the vacant positions were in proprietary departments and the other half were in tax-supported departments; however, the majority of the vacant positions were either police or correctional officers. She said no other vacant positions existed to free up additional money to help balance the budget.
In response to Commissioner Martinez’ question about the method of providing assistance to low-income seniors, County Manager Burgess responded that Commissioner Barreiro envisioned that a direct payment be made to seniors based on eligibility. He noted that about 46,000 seniors, 65 years of age or older with incomes below $26,000 annually would be eligible for assistance through this proposal.
Commissioner Martinez noted that the proposed FY 2010-11 Fire Rescue Department budget was $83.3 million higher than available revenues and questioned account details from the previous year.
Ms. Glazer-Moon noted a base budget factors the cost for a comparable number of employees performing a comparable level of services. She noted a gap typically existed between the base budget and available revenues for both proprietary and tax supported departments. Ms. Glazer-Moon explained that approximately $50 million of the $83.3 million increase in the budget resulted from reductions in ad-valorem revenue.
Commissioner Martinez said he was uncomfortable that it appeared inevitable that the millage would be increased and a fire fee would be imposed next year.
Commissioner Martinez posed a series of questions about the Wellness Center and inquired whether the Center would be closed as suggested in the original budget book.
Ms. Glazer-Moon responded that the Wellness Center had made a positive impact on Fire Department employees. She noted the intent was to develop a method to support the Wellness Center in a different type of organization, in a different location, and provide the service in a different way in order to reduce expenses and maintain critical services.
County Manager Burgess responded that one of the two doctors was no longer employed at the Center.
Commissioner Martinez questioned the rationale to pay a $385 fee to the Wellness Center for Fire Department employees’ physicals when Mt. Sinai Hospital charged all other County employees $83.70 for a physical and $107.35 for a pysical and a drug test.
Chief Herminio Lorenzo, Director, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department, explained that although the cost of physicals were more at the Wellness Center than at Mt. Sinai Hospital, the level and quality of physicals for firefighters exceeded those required for regular employees, e.g., heavy metals and other physical agility testing.
Commissioner Martinez noted a $278 difference per physical existed which resulted in a $685,000 annual savings and that all employees should be treated equally.
Ms. Glazer-Moon said the Wellness Center had fixed expenses which contributed to the necessity to charge $385 for physicals. She noted that the fixed costs would decrease if additional physicals for other County employees were performed by the Center. Ms. Glazer-Moon said that by attracting more business to the Center, its fixed costs would be distributed more broadly. She also noted efforts were being considered to either relocate the Center or to operate in a different manner to reduce expenses.
Chief Lorenzo noted that the Wellness Center was being evaluated from a business perspective and that the Center was slated to be terminated, as proposed in the budget unless a method to make it cost neutral or comparable to the private contract was identified.
Chairwoman Bell congratulated Commissioner Bovo on his appointment as Vice Chair of the Internal Management & Fiscal Responsibility Committee.
Chief Lorenzo noted that the Wellness Center was being evaluated from a business perspective and that the Center was slated to be terminated as per the proposed budget if a method was not determined to make it cost neutral or equal to that provided by the private contract.
Commissioner Martinez questioned whether sufficient income existed to offset the $900,000 cost to install parking pay stations at parks, as noted in the Proposed Resource Allocation and Multi-Year Capital Plan, Volume 3, Page 166.
Ms. Glazer-Moon noted the $900,000 installation cost was included in the revenue received from the sale of Capital Asset Series Bonds in 2009. She said that debt service payments on the bonds would be netted out from anticipated parking fee revenues and then this additional revenue would be available to support park activities. Ms. Glazer-Moon estimated $500,000 net revenue for the first year.
Commissioner Souto noted the unemployment rate ranged from 13 to 25 percent depending on the industry. He expressed concern that there appeared to be a disconnect between County government and its residents; that the community percieved that County Administration did not care; that the Administration believed the media was exagerating the truth; and that the majority of the County residents were wrong.
Commissioner Souto noted his concern over imposing a $5.00 parking fee in parks and potential undesirable consequences that it would create, such as an increase in criminal activity and illegal parking in surrounding neighborhoods and shopping centers. He also noted concern over County employees receiving pay increases; over the elimination of the Community Periodical Program; and over the proposal to privatize the Maimi-Dade County Auditorium.
Commissioner Souto noted that it was the community’s impression that the budget decisions being recommended by County Adminsitration were discriminatory to the Latin-American community, specifically to the Cuban community.
County Mayor Alvarez responded that the County Administration recommended a balanced budget and it was the responsibility of the County Commission to adopt the budget. He maintained that the specific budget recommendations were non-discriminatory and that they were not ethnically devisive as suggested by Commissioner Souto.
Commissioner Rolle asked County Manager Burgess to explain the impact of these recommendation on the Head Start program.
County Manager Burgess responded that the recommended budget would sustain the Head Start program at its current level with a 175 day school year and the same mix of delegate and County taught slots. He noted the Western Kentucky University study was underway, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was involved in the process to fill any potential funding gap.
Commissioner Rolle concurred with County Administration’s recommendation that funding be restored for the Office of Community and Economic Development (OCED).
In response to Commissioner Rolle’s question pertaining to funding for Community Based Organizations (CBOs), County Manager Burgess said that the CBOs would largely be restored to the FY 2009-10 funding level. He noted those agencies currently funded by the County would receive continued funding through April 2011 and new contracts would be awarded effective April 1, 2011.
Commissioner Rolle asked the Parks and Recreation Department Director to provide him with a report detailing the budget impact on District 2 park operations; particuaraly at Gwen Cherry Park, Arcola Lakes Park, Broadmoor Park and Oak Grove Park.
In response to Commissioner Rolle’s question pertaining to funding for the County Attorneys office, County Manager Burgess notified Commissioner Rolle that funding for this office would be restored.
Commissioner Rolle asked the Public Works Department Director to accompany him on a tour of neighborhoods within District 2 in order to identify lighting issues within the District.
Commissioner Rolle identified a concern pertaining to the Elections Department running out of ballots during the August 24, 2010 election at a District 2 voting precinct.
County Manager Burgess responded that Ms Glazer-Moon and Mr. Sola met after the election to resolve the issue of running out of ballots and determined that it was a human error. He noted that the proposed budget would restore ten positions in the Elections Department in order to prevent future occurances.
Ms. Glazer-Moon responded to Commissioner Rolle’s request pertaining to the operation of Community Councils, specifically Community Council 8. She noted that the FY 2009-10 budget eliminated the regular non-zoning support for Community Councils and the discontinued regularly scheduled non-zoning meetings. Ms. Glazer-Moon committed Administrative support for non-zoning related Community Council concerns and that staff would attend an upcoming Community Council 8 meeting to address their concerns.
Commissioner Rolle asked County Manager Burgess to ensure contractors were hired from within District 2 for the upcoming proposed economic development projects, including the Hope 6 (Scott Carver) Redevelopment; the complex being constructed to house the police department, library and CAA, using General Obligation Bond funds; and the senior citizen complex, fire station, youth center, and housing development projects.
In response to Commissioner Rolle’s concerns re staffing for the African Heritage Cultural Arts (AHCA) Center, Ms. Glazer-Moon noted staff reductions were included in the FY 2009-10 budget; and the programs and services would continue to be provided at the AHCA Center by part-time staff.
Commissioner Rolle asked the Parks and Recreation Department Director to meet with him to discuss service reductions at the AHCA Center and other parks located within District 2.
Commissioner Jordan noted she was pleased that the County Manager addressed the Board’s concerns by reinstating the Department of Housing and Community Development and restoring the five positions. She said she would closely monitor back-office support operations and noted the Community Service Block Grant (CSBG) could assume responsibility for the Alliance on Aging grant program. She recognized County departments for their responsiveness and support of youth participation in the Greater Miami Service Corp.
Commissioner Jordan asked County Manager Burgess to ensure that the following language be included in the Head Start and Early Head Start program memorandum: “per conversations with the Mayor and Commissioner Jordan and later verified by the County Manager” as it related to the federal government commitment to fund a potential budget shortfall in the program.
Commissioner Jordan asked County Manager Burgess to meet with her to address the Miscellaneous Construction Contracts (MCC) and how they would be handled as a result of changes at the Airport. She noted the small business community was impressed with the manner in which the MCC was previously handled and wanted to ensure that there were no future service disruptions.
Commissioner Jordan noted she was also pleased over restoring the Guardian Ad Litem positions; restoring the Public Health Trust and Community Health of South Dade, Inc. (CHI); reinstating the certification program in the Department of Small Business Development (SBD); and that she supported the proposal for a three-year recertification process and to cross train personnel.
Concerning Commissioner Jordan’s comments regarding restoring the staffing level for the SBD, the County Manager noted six positions had already been reinstated and four new positions were created; and additional funding was allocated to hire temporary employees to eliminate the backlog. In addition, the Manager noted nine light duty employees from the department were reassigned, and one position would handle wage theft issues.
Commissioner Edmonson noted she was also pleased with many of the changes made by the County Manager. She noted she agreed with the rollback and the need for community service funding after attending meetings with her constituents, including the poor, the elderly, the arts communty, small business owners, and her neighbors. Commissioner Edmonson pointed out that the number of speakers appearing in opposition to the proposed tax increase were minimal at tonight’s (9/23) hearing.
Commissioner Edmonson noted, unlike other employees, non-union employees in the Transit Department's Information Technology Division whose salaries were increased based upon their reclassification did not receive a 5-percent salary reduction. She expressed concern whether this practice existed in other County departments at the expense of laying off employees. Commissioner Edmonson explained that County services cost money and the only way to continue providing constituents with services was to ensure that sufficient funds were generated to pay for these needs.
Commissioner Edmonson expressed her appreciation that funding levels were restored for the Housing and Community Development (HCD) Department, the Community Based Organizations (CBOs), and the Mom and Pop program. She urged her collegues and members of the County Administration to support her proposal for funding for the Hampton House, which she noted would be forthcoming. Commissioner Edmonson asked that sufficient staffing be provided to administer the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) 3 grant. She noted the Department of Building and Neighborhood Compliance pilot program would provide funding to rennovate, bring up to code, and resell foreclosed and dilapidated properties thus increasing the County’s tax roll.
Commissioner Edmonson noted she supported the Community Action Agency Home Energy Assistance Program, which helped low income households pay their utility bills. She also supported restoring the Greater Miami Service Corps, 15 educational days to Head Start and 16 days to Early Head Start, 240 delegated and 500 Head Start partner slots to County operations, and contracted health services. Commisioner Edmonson noted her opposition to the proposal to institute a four-day furlough for County employees. She also supported the transfer of the Certification Unit back to the Department of Small Business Development; the restoration of $2.7 million in CBO funding; the funding of the Department of Cultural Affairs; the restoration of the Office of Community Advocacy; the increase in the County Attorney’s budget; the relocation of Fire Rescue Boat 2; the restoration of Miami-Dade television programming and photographer positions; the restoration of the Guardian Ad Litem program; the addition of $679 million in additional Public Health Trust funding; and the continuation of the South Dade Government Center satellite Water and Sewer Department office.
Commissioner Edmonson expressed appreciation to County Manager Burgess for working diligently to resolve the County’s funding shortfall. She also expressed appreciation to Mayor Alvarez for his ongoing support and his consideration of County residents needs.
Commissioner Seijas noted she had worked diligently to address her constituents' concerns regarding proposed property tax increases and other concerns regarding the budget. Quoting President Harry S. Truman, who said, “Courage is the ability to function under the threat of fear,” the commissioner maintained that it was her responsibility to vote her conscience. She noted this was one of the most challenging budget years she had experienced during her 17-year tenure on the County Commission.
Commissioner Seijas noted the County Administration had negotiated numerous employee concessions with unions that eliminated cost of living adjustments for two-years; suspended annual longevity bonuses; eliminated merit increases for one-year; eliminated healthcare flex pay; and required employees to contribute five-percent of their salary toward health insurance premiums, and the combined savings from these concessions were $225 million over the three-year contract term.
Commissioner Seijas noted that she established the Compensation and Benefits Review Committee to identify more budget reductions. The Committee consisted of Human Resource professionals from community organizations, educational institutions and the private sector who would review the County Pay Plans, the County Collective Bargaining Agreements, and the Florida Retirement System Pension Plan and their recommendations would be provided to the County Commission in the spring of 2011, said Commissioner Seijas. She said employee labor expenses needed to be structured in a manner that would ensure that County government was financially sustainable for decades to come.
Commissioner Seijas noted that although change was inevitable, it must be introduced and delivered in a thoughtful and fair manner. She further noted her conversation with County Administration about reducing County spending; protecting the poorest County residents; and the complexities of property tax rules and regulations.
Commissioner Seijas said County Administration presented a budget reducing spending and eliminating approximately 600 County positions. She noted the FY 2010-11 budgets were transparent and readily available for community review during the past two months. Commissioner Seijas acknowledged the Budget office for compiling a complex budget, noting that the Budget Director and staff were available to answer every question she had asked.
Commissioner Seijas noted she was pleased to learn that the Guardian Ad Litem Program was restored and to support the wage theft ordinance. She also noted she was proud to have supported Commissioner Jordan on Head Start program issues.
Commissioner Seijas recommended that the Immigrants/New Entrants funding proposed under Community Based Organization (CBO) Reallocations on Page 6 of the County Manager’s Memorandum be increased. She said she would offer a motion later to reduce the Criminal Justice allocation by $298,000 and to increase the Immigrants/New Entrants allocation to $604,000.
Commissioner Seijas noted many of the questionable Public Health Trust (PHT) Foundation contracts were initiated by the late Ira Clark during his tenure as President and Chief Executive Officer of Jackson Memorial Hospital before the Foundation was created in 2006. She said she received that information on the Foundation’s 31 existing contracts and she did not want to jeopardize employees without fully understanding the implications of these contracts. Commissioner Seijas said that the PHT was requesting a $7 million transfer to the Foundation of which $4,432,144 was related to employee salary expenses. She suggested not impacting employees and freezing the $2,765,876 remaining operational expenses until a thorough review was completed. Commissioner Seijas said she would present an appropriate motion on this issue later in the meeting.
Commissioner Barreiro noted he was pleased to hear that the funding level for CBOs, Cultural Affairs, and libraries were restored. He noted his intent to offer a proposal to establish a program to assist senior citizens who were hit the hardest during the current economic downturn. Commissioner Barreiro noted government needed to continue its role in providing essential services and to remain hopeful during these trying economic times. He said the Commission had the fiduciary duty to approve a balanced budget; but not at the expense of other social service funding.
Commissioner Sosa said County Commissioners cooperatively worked in the best interest of the community, asking that Commissioners respect one another even when there was disagreement on an issue. She concurred that County Commissioners needed to base decisions on their conscience and not on threats. Commissioner Sosa said that she did not support tax or fee increases. She said she supported the County Manager’s recommended adjustments to CBO programs, Cultural Arts programs, and the Procurement Department. Commissioner Sosa noted she supported the proposal to restore funding for the Head Start Program and commended Commissioner Jordan for her leadership in this area.
Regarding the proposed fire fee structure, Commissioner Souto expressed concern that additional information was needed in specific provisions of this legislation.
County Attorney Cuevas responded to Commissioner Sosa’s questions pertaining to the parking fee resolution that was forwarded to the County Commission by Committee; however, not yet considered by the Commission on today’s (9/23) agenda. He noted that the resolution submitted to the Commission did not contain a revenue source for the parking fees and a budget amendment would be required subsequent to the adoption of this budget.
Commissioner Sosa commended members of the County Administration for reinstating the Guardian Ad Litem program. She recomended that community periodical program funding be included in the budget rather than identifying funding for this program later.
Ms. Jennifer Glazer-Moon responded to Commissioner Sosa’s inquiry pertaining to whether the Second Series GOB Bond was already included in the budget. She noted the Office of Strategic Business Management and the Office of Capital Improvements staff had met with each commissioner or his/her designee to discuss the schedule; however, the schedule was not being approved tonight (9/23) and would be appoved by the BCC when the Series Resolution for the sale of bonds was approved.
County Manager Burgess said that the capacity to undertake projects depended upon approval of the debt service millage. He reiterated that the specific project list would be provided when the bond resolutions were presented to market to secure the debt.
Commissioner Sosa questioned whether funding for the League Against Cancer (LAC) remained in the budget.
Ms. Glazer-Moon responded that the LAC was a CBO and that all currently funded CBOs would receive six-month continuation funding and be eligible to participate in the solicitation process. She said the LAC was a Healthcare CBO and funding for these programs were increased to 100 percent of the FY 2009-10 funding.
Commissioner Sosa commended Commissioner Barreiro for his diligent efforts on behalf of senior citizens. She noted that the increased costs for access to County services created the need to establish the senior citizens grant program. Commissioner Sosa indicated that the costs of County services were too high and needed to be decreased.
Commissioner Sosa questioned whether automobile leases could be terminated and County vehicles returned in an effort to save money.
County Attorney Cuevas responded that lease agreements did not provide the right of cancellation.
Commissioner Sosa said that the cost of leasing a vehicle through the County was twice the price that could be obtained privately and that the procurement process needed to be reviewed in an effort to save money.
In response to Commissioner Sosa’s question whether anything existed in the budget that was inclusive for District 6, County Manager Burgess noted 100 percent CBOs funding and the provision of emergency services.
Commissioner Diaz questioned what would happen to CBO funding after April 2011.
Ms. Glazer-Moon responded to Commissioner Diaz that a competitive solicitation process was conducted; that proposals were received; that selection committees were formed; and that funding allocation reviews were underway for the contract period beginning April 1, 2011. She noted that funding recommendations for these allocations would be presented to the County Commission within the next couple of months.
Commissioner Diaz commented that 127 out of the 223 proposed budget items were fee related, of which 70 increased, 4 decreased, and 5 remained the same. Commissioner Diaz said that his position on the budget was clear and that he was ready to vote.
Chairman Moss asked County Manager Burgess to address concerns related to Miscellaneous Construction Contracts (MCC) bids that could not be opened.
County Attorney Cuevas responded to Chairman Moss’ question that a caveat could be placed on the Public Health Trust Foundation’s International Program funding allocation pending the BCC receiving a $7 million line item budget.
Chairman Moss asked for clarification that increased mowing cycles was included in the County Manager’s Changes Memorandum.
County Manger George Burgess responded that mowing cycles were being restored in lieu of spending $500,000 to acquire and renovate foreclosed homes.
Chairman Moss expressed the need for County Commissioners to make the right decision for our community; one that was not influenced by threats, innuendo, or the media. He said that police officers performed a tremendous job keeping our community safe, noting that continued police presence in the community was essential. Chairman Moss explained that Miami-Dade County had a 2.4 million population with approximately 5,200 police officers, including municipalities, while Chicago had a 2.8 million population with 14,000 police officers. He noted that the County’s firefighters also performed a tremendous job protecting our community with 3,400 firefighters while Chicago had 5,000 firefighters.
Chairman Moss noted he supported efforts to ensure libraries and swimming pools remained opened. He noted he agreed with the changes presented in the County Manager’s Changes Memorandum; although he expressed concern over the decline in CBO funding. Chairman Moss further noted that programs serving children aged 0-5, were being funded at the expense of those targeting an older youth population which he believed would create an additional burden on police resources. Chairman Moss noted his support for Community Health of South Dade, Head Start, Small Business Development, and the Department of Housing and Community Development funding. Chairman Moss said he was prepared to vote his conscience and would not be intimidated by threats and fear tactics.