Mayor Gimenez’s Budget Reveals Deep Cuts

MIAMI (CBS4) – Twelve days after taking office, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez will recommend closing 13 libraries, eliminating the county’s Head Start program and reduce the county workforce by almost 1,300 employees as part of a plan to close a $409 million budget deficit next year, according to sources familiar with the proposal.

Gimenez’s will formally unveil his first budget Tuesday evening at 6 p.m., but sources who had been briefed by the mayor and his staff outlined the proposal to CBS4’s Jim DeFede on the condition they not be identified because they were not authorized to speak on behalf of the mayor.

Also on the chopping block: the county’s Boot Camp program which served 200 juvenile offenders last year and cost the county nearly $5 million, and the Women’s Detention Center which will save the county $3 million.

Gimenez is also expected to reiterate his pledge to cut the number of departments down to 25, although it will be several more weeks before a new organizational table for the county will be introduced.

It is not immediately known which of the county’s 13 libraries will be closed, but Gimenez indicated that he would target libraries that are infrequently used and those that are located close to other branches.

The Mayor is also expected to close the county’s larger, regional libraries at least one day a week, and the remaining branch libraries to just four days a week in order to save money. Two of the four book mobiles will also be discontinued.

The cut to the Head Start program, which provides educational opportunities to poor and disadvantaged children, could generate the most controversy. Approximately 400 county employees could be laid off if the program is eliminated.

In his briefings with commissioners today, Gimenez reportedly stressed that no children would be affected because the county would simply pay a private company to provide the Head Start services. County officials believe the private companies can provide the services cheaper than the county.

In addition to cutting his own salary and benefits by 50 percent, Gimenez has pledged to cut the budget for the mayor’s office by 20 percent and is asking commissioners to cut their budget by ten percent.

The bulk of the savings however will come from county employees who will be asked to contribute an additional five percent of their salaries to cover the cost of the health insurance. The mayor is also proposing doing away with merit pay, cost of living increases and longevity pay.

The biggest loser in the mayor’s budget is the Miami Dade Police Department which will be asked to not only pay more for insurance and give up a three percent raise they were expecting, but it will also do away with a step increase that would have raised their rate of pay.

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