MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami-Dade commissioners voted Tuesday to raise library tax rate for the next fiscal year.
This means the library system would get $ 53 million for the next fiscal year without staff cuts.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who called for no tax increases, has ten days to veto it.
It was a long day of debate on a maximum property tax rate. The reason for the long discussion on the matter was because once the 2014-2015 millage rate is set, there’s no changing it.
In his proposed $6.2 billion budget, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez called for no tax increases. Instead he’s looking for concessions from the county’s union to keep service cuts and layoffs at bay.
“We can have everything.. simply by maintaining the concessions and getting a reduction in healthcare costs,” said Mayor Gimenez.
If there are no concessions, $64 million will need to be cut from the budget to avoid losing 700 job positions.
The lay off breaks down into a loss of 228 positions as the police department, 95 library positions and 323 jobs at other county services.
In his budget, to keep the overall millage rate flat, the mayor wants to cut the millage rate for police and fire rescue services and increase it for the county’s library system.
John Rivera, the president of Miami-Dade’s Police Benevolent Association, said the cut would negatively impact public safety.
“We want to see what the mayor and the commission want to do about public safety. Are they concerned about people’s lives or they’re not? It’s that simple,” said Rivera.
The mayor disagrees.
“We’ll be redeploying our forces. People in desk jobs that will be going back into the street. There are reductions in certain investigative units,” Gimenez said. “I’ll give you an example, we have four SWAT teams, we’ll go down to three SWAT teams. But again, the day-to-day patrolling of the streets of Miami-Dade County will have the same number of officers on the streets of Miami-Dade County.”
When concessions were discussed with the commission, Commissioner Barbara Jordan said this to the mayor.
“What you are talking is smoke and mirrors,” said Jordan.
The mayor responded, “What I’m talking about are facts and numbers….not smoke and mirrors and I’m not going to take that.”
Overall groups that spoke to the commission said they don’t want to take from one area to give to another. Those supporting the ‘Save Our Library Effort” say they don’t support taking from fire and police and giving to the library as proposed by Mayor.
“What it is, is it’s setting one department against the other,” said librarian Ellen Book.
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So what exactly is a millage rate. The ‘mill’ is one dollar for every $1,000 on the value of your home. The proposed millage rate for the library is .238. So if a home is worth $150,000 (150,000 divided by 1,000 = 150) the millage rate would work out to $36. (150 X .238 = 36)
Countywide the millage rate for police and other county services is 4.6 ($700), for fire rescue it’s 2.4 ($363) and .238 for the library ($36).
The commission will begin voting on the budget in August and the final vote must take place by the end of the September. The county’s new fiscal year begins October 1st.