Budget Still A Mystery To Miamidade Commission
Written by Risa Polansky on October 8, 2009
By Risa Polansky
Nearly three weeks after passing a $7.4 billion budget, Miami-Dade commissioners took a time out at a routine meeting Tuesday to ask for a recap of what exactly they voted on.
Commission Chair Dennis Moss said he added a budget review item to the agenda to "make sure we clearly understand what we did."
At a marathon Sept. 17 meeting that ran into the wee hours Sept. 18, the commission took in hours of public commentary before leaving the dais for private meetings with administrators.
They later passed the budget. Since then, it’s been unclear precisely how commissioners filled the $444 million hole oft cited by the administration.
County Manager George Burgess summed some of it up for the commission Tuesday, citing about $8 million saved through cutting spending in areas like travel, $9 million-plus through deferring capital projects, restoring 70% funding to community-based organizations by passing a higher-than-planned tax rate for the county’s library district, and replenishing $17 million in the county’s emergency reserves by charging some departments a one-time 1.5% fee.
Nearly $200 million of the cuts the budget depends on are not yet final.
The $106 million in would-be wage cuts and tens of millions that would be saved by eliminating some benefits depend on settling union contracts.
Three of the county’s 10 unions were to come before the commission Tuesday to resolve collective bargaining agreements but deferred to Oct. 20.
"We have an IOU of $106 million that we have promised to find, and we have two choices: salary reductions or layoffs," budget committee Chair Katy Sorenson said. "The longer we wait, the bigger the hole gets."