Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Mayor Gimenez: Last Night's Town Hall Meeting on Taxes in Florida City. Guest Blog by Florida City Activist

Standing Room Only. People lining up to speak. Link to VIDEO of meeting.

Mayor Gimenez showed up thirty minutes late to his budget hearing in Florida City to find the room filled to capacity. He was just late enough for the “he’s just another politician who can’t find his way south” jokes to start fluttering around the room.

The Mayor was well modulated throughout the hearing; however, he was visibly not thrilled when formerly ardent supporters (and fundraisers) from Kendall and the Falls area chided him on the library and pet shelter. Gimenez was tweaked on the “same old faces” comment by some of the same old faces (they reminded him that they were tax payers and they could go to public hearings). Some of the new faces took their time for a show of hands in the audience to offer-up to the Mayor and his entourage a whole new set of faces to study for the next meeting.

He started off with the comments explaining how they had to worked things around so no libraries would be closed, 4 police academy classes would start, the pets got an amazing 40% increase in their budget and that fire fighters would be pretty much the same.

It wasn’t until 15 minutes later that people began to understand that “no libraries would be closed” (that was what he called the “footprint” of the library system) – was not the same as keeping the librarians in them. Gimenez spoke about how hard staff is working to find everyone jobs --- looking even in the private sector to help them transition. That just turned up the heat a bit as that realization took root that buildings “open” did not equal trained librarians but maybe volunteers from non-profits agencies in them.

The room got rowdy when the Mayor cut off Kendall pet advocate Michael Rosenberg. Michael asked Gimenez why he let them go through the whole straw vote process to let the issue die in the commission. The mayor told Michael he and his people did a great job in a two year period by bringing the issue to forefront and resulting in a 40% budget increase for animal control.

A highlight of the evening was when a team of teens sang to the beat of rhythm instruments a “you’ll miss us” song about the librarians being gone from the library. Gimenez said that was the nicest way anyone had told him their opinion.

The oldest attendee was Connie Ingram of Florida City who came to the budget hearing on her 97th birthday. She was pleased with all the attention and hugs; but with her hearing being a bit lacking, she missed all the racket and catcalls directed at the Mayor making for a better experience during her visit.

The Mayor insists that this issue is the Commission’s problem. He can veto their final budget numbers and they can override his veto. He says he only makes the suggestions when he presents the budget; they fund what they want in it or not.


Anonymous said...

Gimenez, about an hour late, really could have cared less what anyone said. Staff was less then interested. The heavy debt service we're paying was basically ignored. Pushing the can down the road while we pay for very plush pensions for the staff with the highest paying positions in the County and no competition to get the job in the first place. Why don't we start there for budget cuts and take a microscope to every department Director and their assistants. All people in positions within County Hall who are on the administrative side of the work force need to prove their worth before they receive said jobs then said pensions we pay for.

Anonymous said...

Recall Gimenez.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Gimenez is an hour late for meetings with the Latin Builders Association.

Anonymous said...

Anybody ever seen the EMT and police contract. Post a link. These elected officials must me laughing like crazy after these events. They are running the largest fraud corporation in America.

Anonymous said...

Gimenez was extremely rude to the library staff. His dismissive and mocking tone was insulting. He is nothing but a bully. And he thinks its OK to do that because the most of library staff are women? It's a new low in Miami Dade County politics.

By the way, the women next to him on his budget staff must be horrified, too. I would be if I were them.

Anonymous said...

The Truth about the Library Fiasco

1. Libraries are not “saved”. The award winning Miami-Dade Public Library System will be a shadow of what it once was.

2. Staff levels have fallen from 800 in 2008 to their current level of 440 with further expected reductions in October to 271 in order to keep 49 branches open.

3. All libraries will have reduced staff and reduced hours of operation and some will be closing. (Board of County Commissions will be voting on this at the Sept. 10 and 19 budget hearings.)

4. The majority of surviving librarians and library assistants are being demoted. Positions, like branch supervisors, are being eliminated. The staff that remain are either the most senior employees who have survived the cuts or one entry level librarian with two part-time pages (shelvers) per branch. The youth and recently graduated have no future in the Miami-Dade system. There are no jobs.

5. Services are being radically diminished beginning Oct. 1, 2013. The Bookmobile, free computer classes, childrens’ programs and workshops are on the chopping block.

6. Books, materials and resources like data bases, downloadables, serial subscriptions and digital collections (e-books) are being cut .

What about that Special Library Tax?

$7.476 million was transferred from the library reserves in the fiscal year 2009-2010 budget to the Cultural Affairs Department. Grants were awarded with library millage to many arts organizations. The following are just a few of the top recipients:

Florida Grand Opera $ 376,800

Adrienne Arsht Center $ 340,000

FIU Board of Trustees for Wofsonian $ 244,700

Miami Children’s Museum $244,700

Friends of the Bass Museum $ 166,750

University of Miami, Lowe Art Museum $ 153,750

These funds were spent from taxes that were designated as library millage. Now that this information has become public, the Mayor wants to dissolve this fund altogether and roll the library into the general fund so that it competes with other departments for funding.

Quick History Lesson

The library millage rate has gone from .48 in 2007 to its current rate of .17. (That’s $0.17 of every $1,000 of property tax going to the library.) In the 2011-2012 budget, the mayor used $75 million from library fund reserves to compensate for the reduction in millage. His budget for 2013-2014 sets forth reserves at $18 million. This millage rate can’t cover current operations. It only generates $28 million and the system requires $52 million to run.
- See more at:

Anonymous said...

Gimenez is an ASS!!!! Why doesn't everyone on the 29th floor take a pay cut and benefit cut first! Why doesn't he give back all the squandered funds taken from the Library reserves over the years? Why did the County continue to over charge the Library for millions for rent and now want to destroy our archives?

As to the Police & Fire - there should be cuts from the top, not from the people on the ground putting out fires and saving peoples lives! In those departments, again, like the 29th floor - start from the top down to fix the budget deficits.

I doubt he'd ever be late to a LBA, Chamber meeting or a fundraiser!

Good comments on this blog. The taxpayers are paying attention.

I'd sign a recall in a minute by the way.

The only reason I believe he "fixed" the budget was due to commissioners up for re election in 2014. That's pretty plain as day to me.

Anonymous said...

"How can you have a library without any services?"
And I add, "Is it a library without librarians?"

Here's the link to last night's Town Hall meeting with Gimenez berating a library employee for daring to stand up for library services.

Anonymous said...

What bankrupted Detroit will eventually bankrupt every city. Outrageous pensions!
This is where reform has to happen it is destroying budgets. Do you think they want to raise taxes after what happened to Alvarez?
Gimenez and the County Commission see the writing on the wall and this round of cuts, is in their opinion the least harmful cuts they can make.

Of course, that's not true, libraries are a resource for the education needs of a community struggling to attract businesses other than tourism.
A few more years of this and the county government will cease to exist, no pensions will be paid as city's will incorporate and start all over, transit will be sold to private contractors, as will water.
Someone needs to lead right now, making due does nothing to address the future and that is what is missing here.

Anonymous said...

What will bankrupt Miami-Dade County? Morally bankrupt politicians like Gimenez - where subsidies to sports moguls and supporting the projects of special interests and lobbyists, regardless of merit, are more important than providing essential services to the tax-paying public. Where bending over backward for gambling interests is more important than real, economic development.

Check out the transcripts of the FBI Mayor scandal. Did these Mayors care about their communities well-being? No way. There eyes were on the envelopes of cash, on the political campaign donations.

Will the Miami Dade Commission do the right thing on Sept. 10 and restore the millage rate that will provide a real budget for a library system that serves 7 million patrons a year?

Or, will they hide behind the empty rhetoric and pretend they care about taxpayer's pocketbooks while looking the other way when multi-million subsidies are handed out to pork projects?

Tune in.

Anonymous said...

Carlos Gimenez is rude and disrespectful. He is a pompous ass who truly believes he is above everyone. He has a "closed-door" policy. It is impossible to enter the 29th floor. There is a locked door with a "bouncer" preventing entry to the administrative offices. They forget they are our servants! We pay for their salaries!

Anonymous said...

An hour late! And we continue to accept this lack of respect!
He must be fired!

Anonymous said...

Not only does the Mayor show up late for meetings, his well-paid staff don't return phone calls or follow through with constituent appointments. How many aids does he have making a six figure income. What is this, governing by avoidance? Not impressed.

Anonymous said...

Did you see the shoes on his female harem? My bet they were $500 or more a pair. Those overpaid broads were strutting in luxury while he is cutting libraries.


Anonymous said...

Looks like a lot of County employees to me... I think it is time to obliterate their pensions. It is none existent in the private sector. Public salaries are not lower than the mean... When the CBA's are renegotiated, the future of this community must come first, not the County Employees...

Anonymous said...

Did the library ever have a chance with Mayor Gimenez in office? See this 28 second youtube video when he was interviewed by the Miami Herald Editorial board. Two years ago he tried to close 13 branches. "We knew we'd have do do something about the library's millage two years ago."

Materials budget includes books, magazines, newspapers, downloadable Ebooks and audiobooks, homework databases, and many other shared community resources.

FY2002-03 - $5,511,000
FY2003-04 - $6,200,000
FY2004-05 - $6,823,000
FY2005-06 - $6,750,000
FY2006-07 - $7,000,000
FY2007-08 - $5,500,000
FY2008-09 - $5,500,000
FY2009-10 - $2,949,000
FY2010-11 - $2,375,000
FY2011-12 - $1,600,000
FY2012-13 - $2,200,000 ($1,600,000 + $600,000 State Aid)
FY2012-13, there were 49 locations and two book mobiles, $500,000 in database access.
for FY 2013-14, there are submitted scenarios of $500k, $750k, $1M and $$1.5M.

Library's Millage Rates:
.4860 in 2005
.4860 in 2006
.3842 in 2007
.3822 in 2008 National Medal for Museum and Library Service
.3822 in 2009
.2840 in 2010
.17950 in 2011 Gimenez came into office: 300 employes laid off, hours cut.
.17250 in 2012
.17250 in 2013. Facing 169 layoffs and another 1/4 reduction in operating hours. Bookmobiles cease operations.

Did the library ever have a chance, when the biggest cut came in 2011 with our Mayor in office?

Anonymous said...

Why is Broward County Libraries going to be so much better than ours?
Broward County Budget for Libraries – FY 2012:
FY 12 Budget: $58,935,960
Positions: 654
Branches: 40
Welcome to the Broward County Library – the ninth largest library system in the United States. Our 40 branch locations cover more than one million square feet, host over 10 million visitors and circulate nine million items annually.
Broward County Library has more than one million library card holders who can choose from over three million library materials for public use. The library receives 90,000 requests for items on hold each month.
MDPLS currently haS 49 branches with 440 staff. As of October 1st, 169 full timers are targeted plus 40 vacancies plus 50 (19 hour a week) part-timers. 271 older employees with seniority will carry the load for the public service.

Why is Tampa's libraries going to be so much better than ours?
Hillsborough County's 2013 materials budget is $5,034,834 for 30 locations (including bookmobile, cybermobile for Spanish speakers, and their talking books).

Anonymous said...


• 49 LIBRARIES ARE PARTIALLY SHUT DOWN (Services diminished)


The one opportunity for a reconsideration vote is at 5:01 on TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2013 at the BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSION’S NEXT MEETING, 111 NW 1 Street.


Contact the Four Commissioners who might listen to reason:
305-375-3456 Fax
Commissioner Javier D. Souto
District 10
Stephen P. Clark Center
111 N.W. 1st Street, Suite 320
Miami, Florida 33128

Commissioner Xavier L. Suarez
District 7
Stephen P. Clark Center
111 N.W. First Street, Suite 220
Miami, FL 33128
District Office
6130 Sunset Drive
S. Miami, FL 33143
305-669-4044 Fax

Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz - more likely
District 12
Stephen P. Clark Center
111 N.W. First Street, Suite 320
Miami, FL 33128
District Office
8345 N.W. 12th St
Miami, FL 33126
305-470-1791 Fax

Commissioner Bruno Barreiro - more likely
District 5
Stephen P. Clark Center
111 N.W. 1st Street, Suite 220
Miami, Florida 33128


Anonymous said...

The more Gimenez cuts that bloated overpaid county workforce, the more I support him.

Manny said...

In 2012, there were 3,697 Miami-Dade County employees who had a "Minimum Year-to-Date Salary" of at least $100,000.

I don't want my taxes being raised to pay the salaries of the highest paid librarians in the nation. Good riddance. We can't afford it any more.


Anonymous said...

How come there are people who are listed on the transparency list that no longer work for the county?. I plugged in names, and they are on the list. It says there are 496 fulltime staff. Untrue. There are 461 full time staff and 50 part-time shelvers. If you get your info from this list, be skeptical.

Anonymous said...

The county pays $6.4 million on the American Airlines operating costs. Heat Profits never hit the threshold of profit sharing.

Insider said...

To the anon above who questions the accuracy of the transparency database, the transparency records are the accurate payroll records. If there was a dept of one, and the incumbent was replaced mid year, it would accurately show that two people were paid by the dept for that year and give us the exact amounts. When it comes to payroll information, that database is 100% accurate. Other information you may have acquired may not be.

I am not happy with Gimenez for hiring all those incompetent and overpaid Burgess/Alvarez cronies without a competitive process, but I give him great credit for putting that payroll information online. You can say what you want about him, but you must acknowledge that he fulfilled his promises on transparency.

If you haven't checked out that database yet, you should:

Anonymous said...

The insider is correct. That list is accurate to the penny. My department (Transit) shows someone who is being paid by my department but who works for another department. The employee was supposedly hired by the other department with a big announcement, but the truth is the employee was only out-stationed and the whole thing is a charade. Do not trust the Transit Department management as far as you can kick them, especially the HR division. That's why we need that list. My salary is in those records, but I still love it. I used to have to go to the Herald site for that information, and they ever updated it.

Anonymous said...

If you want a world-class city, you gotta pay for it. And paying employees, like librarians, is part of it. Paying for books and materials, library buildings, programs and services come with it. Stop with the obsession with county employee salaries and benefits. Why not focus on the waste and subsidies to political cronies and clients of lobbyists that raise funds for the elected officials. Bet there's no transparency on that in the county files.
How 'bout them Dolphins? While Gimenez was flying back and forth to Tallahassee to lobby for taxpayer funding for the stadium makeover, Steve Ross was orchestrating a $200 million donation to his beloved university in Michigan. Meanwhile, Gimenez seems to take personal pleasure in firing county employees, including hundreds of library staff.

Anonymous said...

The shoes the "Gimenez Girls" had on their feet were definitely expensive shoes.
That reminded me of the City of Miami when the high ranking employees/administrators were wearing expensive suits. Then we find out the suits were hot suits.
Are the shoes you ladies are wearing hot also?

Anonymous said...

Wow, the people are really speaking. (Hope the mayor starts listening.)

Anonymous said...

Carlos Gimenez is rude. Plus he spends too much time with lobbyists. He often just answers questions using their talking points.

Opie said...

We have been paying outrageous local government salaries for more than 30 years, higher than almost every other community in the US.

So how long do we need to pay those outrageous salaries before we become a world class city? If the outrageous salaries theory is correct, wouldn't we have arrived at our goal by now?

k said...

As long as miami-dade transit employees continue to get free metro and bus rides while the rest of us have to pay, I will know the county has too much of my tax money. Plenty of fat to be cut there.

Anonymous said...

Opie, I truly believe the higher ups in County Hall are perfectly happy not getting anything substantial done to keep their salary going along with the unheard of in the private sector pensions.

When I say higher ups, I don't mean our librarians, garbage collectors, 311 call center operators, policemen or fire fighters.

I mean anyone with the position - Directors, assistant Director, assistant/vice Mayor, etc...... Those people themselves our killing our County to justify their jobs. We're screwed daily when it comes to so much of our tax dollar give always from "affordable" housing over payments of construction costs to no over sight of applicants down the road to transit which has their own set of financial over spending to so many other departments who just don't justify their budgets. Construction costs in all of the departments with cost over runs are worse then ever. We do have another department who should be over seeing this but they may have underfunded like the public corruption unit who only arrest "little" people and not anyone on the BCC who should be doing the perp walk!

Tax payers revolt - not only do so many need to literally be fired, our Mayor would be wise to take the lead in doing so along with the BCC. Their just as bad with their slush funds to get re elected.

Geniusofdespair said...

What is the average salary at the county-- about $36,000. Don't get manipulated people. Union bashing is like cutting off your own toe. People deserve a living wage if they work then they won't need affordable housing, food stamps, etc. that cost us all. Don't drink the koolaide and engage in librarian bashing. Shame on you. Libraries will evolve with the computer age. You don't need separate tech centers in our parks..

Insider said...

G.O.D. - I love and adore you but your fact about the average county salary is pure nonsense. Are you averaging in poll workers who work one day a year? Are you including pay exceptions and overtime? Focus on full-time employees only. Look at Year to Date (W2) amounts for employees that worked the full year. I can assure you the average is over $60k.

As I have already posted, in 2012, there were 3,697 Miami-Dade County employees who had a "Minimum Year-to-Date (W2) Salary" of at least $100,000. Please show me another state or local government in the world with a comparable number of $100k+ employees.

I urge you to get the spreadsheet and do your own calculations. Don't take union or admin numbers at face value. Both have a vested interest in giving you a low-ball figure.


Geniusofdespair said...

I believe that was the number given by Gimenez. Will check now.

Geniusofdespair said...

It is the $50,000 range for Median Salary.

Anonymous said...

Almost 4,000 full time employees received over $100,000 per year PLUS they get health care and massive Defined Benefit Pensions. 1,000's have take home vehicles and many other perks.

Geniusofdespair said...

4,000 out of 29,000 workers. That is 13,78% of workers that receive $100,000.

Anonymous said...

Median income for private sector employees in Miami-Dade is $39,000 per year with NO health insurance and NO pension.