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Gimenez Reveals Dade County Gov’t Reorganization Plan

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(Photo Credit: CBS4) Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez

(Photo Credit: CBS4) Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez

MIAMI-DADE (CBS4) – Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez has announced his plan to reorganize County government. He held a news conference Friday to announce major changes in the way the county does business.

Mayor Gimenez’s plan reduces the number of county departments from 42 to 25, which is something he pledged to do on the campaign trail.

In a memo to commissioners, Gimenez said the overhaul aims to “reduce overhead costs, minimize the duplication of efforts, and improve the overall delivery of County services.”

“What we have now is a hodgepodge of puzzle pieces that don’t fit together,” Gimenez told CBS4’s Gwen Belton. “It’s a complicated, redundant system that looks more like government for the sake of government.”

He also hinted at more changes to come by saying that this plan is just a start.

He asked his new leadership team to “dig deeper” in the coming year to assess which services fall within the core mission of Miami-Dade County government.

Here’s a list of how the Mayor plans to merge departments into single, larger entities.

The Environment and Regulatory Affairs Department will include Building and Neighborhood Compliance, zoning functions from the Planning and Zoning Department, Environmental Resources Management and Consumer Protection.

The Sustainability, Planning and Economic Enhancement Department will include the former Office of Economic Development and International Trade, planning functions from planning and zoning, Small Business Development, Film and Entertainment and the agricultural manager.

The Miami-Dade Fire Department will take over the Office of Emergency Management.

The Community Action and Human Services Department will include the Community Action Agency, Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Human Rights and Fair Employment Practices.

The Housing and Urban Development Department will combine the current Housing and Community Development, Public Housing Department, and infill housing division from the General Services Administration.

Several departments were not affected by the reorganization including the Miami-Dade Police Department, Port of Miami, aviation and transit.

All of this is designed to save the county money in order to plug a $400 million budget gap.

Gimenez also echoed a talking point gaining steam on the 2012 GOP Presidential Primary campaign trail when addressing government’s role in spurring job growth.

“In this difficult economic climate, in any economy for that matter, it’s unconscionable for government to be an impediment to job creation,” Gimenez said.

Gimenez’s budget proposal calls for cuts in key programs, eliminating nearly 1,300 jobs and a cut in property taxes. Additionally, county employees are being asked to contribute an additional five percent of their salaries to cover the costs of health insurance, effectively becoming a salary cut to all county workers. Gimenez is also proposing doing away with merit pay, cost of living increases, and longevity pay.

The Mayor is also trying to negotiate new deals with Miami-Dade government’s bargaining units, including firefighters, police and water and sewer employees. The current contracts expire Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year.

Gimenez has said if county government labor unions don’t ink new contracts by Nov. 1, he will begin laying off workers.

Gimenez’s proposed budget will be formally taken up, and voted on, by commissioners in two commission meetings this month.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed material for this report).

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