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Message from Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez
Fellow residents of Miami-Dade County:
Miami-Dade County is moving forward together and we are not looking back. The state of our County is strong and together, we are making it stronger and building upon the foundation we have laid for a better future for our children and grandchildren.
Since I was first elected mayor in 2011, my agenda has been focused on good government, specifically honesty, transparency, efficiency and fiscal responsibility. Good government has been and continues to be my administration’s priority. That is what our 2.6 million residents demanded of us nearly five years ago when they voted for change and an overhauling of our government.
"Business as usual" was no longer an option. My administration has worked with our dedicated Board of County Commissioners to reform our County government and make it more honest, transparent, efficient and fiscally responsible. Because of our work, Miami-Dade County’s financial outlook continues to be strong.
In other words, our financial house is in order. The County’s five-year budget forecast continues to be balanced with conservative growth projections and without a need to raise overall taxes. In fact, since I became mayor, County taxpayers have saved approximately $1 billion. The $6.8 billion adopted budget also continues the County’s sustainable spending practices. By fiscal year 2019-2020, reserves are estimated to reach $100 million of the total general fund supported budget.
Better days are here from an economic standpoint. We have created 132,000 private-sector jobs in our community and our overall unemployment rate is down from 12.5 percent to 6 percent. Our two-largest economic engines—MIA and PortMiami—both had record-breaking years. We have also worked to diversify our economy by investing in fields ranging from clean energy and ground transportation to art, film and entertainment.
Good government, however, is about more than improved finances. It is also about a commitment to enhancing the quality of life for every Miami-Dade resident. To accomplish that, there must be strong and consistent interaction between County government and the community. Our streamlined elections process is one way we are improving and expanding access for our residents. We continue to provide critical services for residents in need—especially children and seniors. We have also continued to invest in animal services, and increased our save rate to 90 percent.
While I am happy to report that Miami-Dade is on a fiscally sustainable path, our environmental sustainability is also vital to our future. We know that South Florida is ground zero for sea level rise. That is why we continue our work to adapt to the effects of climate change and sea level rise. Among our many environmental sustainability initiatives, we signed the U.S.-China climate leaders’ declaration, met with U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, hired a Chief Resilience Officer, challenged our local universities to propose steps for adapting to sea level rise and climate change, and continued work on the largest capital improvement project in County history—a $13.5-billion project to renew and strengthen our infrastructure.
We have also taken a proactive approach to improving mobility and transportation throughout our County. Our new unified Transportation and Public Works Department will lead the charge to give our community the clean, safe, reliable, accessible and convenient transportation system we need. Our challenges will not be solved overnight, but we have already had early successes. These successes include the Metrorail Express to and from downtown; our cleaner fleet of buses and trains; and the improved synchronization of traffic signals on some of our major corridors, which have improved traffic flow.
During my entire career in public service, whether as County Mayor, Miami City Manager or City of Miami Fire Chief, public safety has always been my top priority. To enhance the work of our Miami-Dade County Police Department and build more confidence between our community and our officers, my budget for fiscal year 2015-2016 includes the hiring of 125 police officers and the deployment of 1,000 body-worn cameras for our officers. We also continue to expand our vehicle fleet and modernize our Real-Time Crime Center. Youth violence is also a key concern of mine, and the safety of every child, of every resident in this community, is our responsibility. We must work together—law enforcement and the community—to put a stop to the violence.
To move our community forward, we must also continue to invest in technology, innovation and entrepreneurship. That is why we continue to partner with the eMerge Americas Conference, Venture Hive, Jackson Health and the Knight Foundation, among other key organizations in our community. We are also investing in creating more green spaces, cultural programs and libraries, and expanding and renovating existing spaces to continue to position Miami-Dade County as "the place" to live, work and play.
I have been a public servant for more than 40 years and I have never been more excited to serve this community. That is why this administration will continue to put service to our residents above all else. That is my promise to you. Together—your government, our residents and the private sector—will continue to transform Miami-Dade County into a world-class community.
We have come a long way, through recession, difficult budgets and other challenges. Today, we are moving forward together in a much better direction. But our work is not done. And the only way to build on the progress we have made is to continue to work together.
I look forward to working with you to make Miami-Dade County even stronger.
Carlos A. Gimenez
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