By Wayne Tompkins
Miami-Dade Commissioner Carlos Gimenez has withdrawn his proposal to have the commission prepare its own budget, separate from the mayor's, in favor of another plan he said he will submit this month.
Mr. Gimenez's proposal came after an acrimonious summer budget session — the first under the new strong mayor government — in which frustrated commissioners often felt they had little say over Mayor Carlos Alvarez's $7.4 billion budget, which included well over $200 million in spending cuts. Commissioners were able to restore some funding in several areas including arts and cultural programs and the "Mom and Pop" small business grant program.
The Budget and Finance Committee responded favorably last month to Mr. Gimenez's proposal but expressed concerns over duplication and costs, while warning that the commission auditor's office was not staffed for the task of compiling a county budget.
"I sat down with the commission auditor and administration to get their input and suggestions," Mr. Gimenez said. "After meeting with both and doing further research, I now believe there may be a better solution."
He said his new proposal would create a "transparent process with cooperation and corroboration rather than duplication."
He said he is working with the county attorney's office on a new plan he will introduce for its first reading Nov. 6 at the commission's next full meeting.
Mr. Gimenez has been an outspoken critic of the current budgeting process, saying "the process we saw this year was not good government. We were all forced by the circumstances to react, rather than to guide."
Mr. Gimenez has said that the commission needs to have its own budget priorities, instead of merely being able to react to what the mayor is putting forward.
His original proposal directed the commission auditor to prepare an annual budget for the county beginning with fiscal 2008-09, a mammoth task that the office is not now prepared to do without