City Of Opa-Locka In Financial Crisis

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OPA-LOCKA (CBSMiami) – At the Wednesday night city commission meeting in Opa-locka, there was talk of a budget shortfall of more than $1 million.

“We had $566,000 that was owed to the county,” explained City Manager David Chiverton.

And impending job cuts.

“The layoffs are still imminent,” Chiverton told the crowd.

And questions about how the city of Opa-locka is being run.

“We’re trying to save money and get this city back on the right track and you all want to play these games?” asked Vice Mayor Timothy Holmes. “I’m not going to play these games with you.”

Those alleged games were exposed back in March when CBS4 cameras rolled as FBI agents raided Opa-locka city offices.

A damaging article by our news partners at The Miami Herald laid out allegations of high ranking city officials and the son of the mayor demanding payments from business owners for business licenses and public works employees accused of pocketing water fees.

The Miami Herald reports that a grand jury investigation could end in the indictment of at least a dozen employees and city officials facing federal charges.

City activists – like former Vice Mayor Steven Barrett – are outraged.

“We need help,” he said. “We knew we had problems but we never knew it was this bad in this city.”

The majority of commissioners did not address the allegations at the meeting but Holmes did.

“That’s what wrong with the city now,” he said. “That’s what’s wrong with the city now. Too many people trying to get their cut, get their percentage.”

So did Mayor Myra Taylor, briefly.

“Things are appearing in the paper that are not true,” she said.

After the meeting, she refused to discuss the allegations involving her son, instead saying that she is focused on the financial recovery of the city.

And it’s residents who want answers about why the city is in such financial distress.

“The money has gone someplace,” said Darlene Lewis. “It’s not in the city. It’s not with the residents. Plain and simple.”

Resident Steven Barrett told CBS4’s Carey Codd that he wants to see the state come in and take over Opa-locka saying that state leaders should “take quick action on this city. That they would come in and take over and put this city back in order.”

One source told CBS4 News that the city likely only has enough money on hand for another month or two.

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