Xavier Suarez brings ideas on transportation, playhouse employee pay and city traffic to county commission post
In his first five months on the job, Miami-Dade Commissioner Xavier Suarez has adamantly pushed to downsize the scope of county government.
Assuming the seat that Mayor Carlos Gimenez recently resigned, the former City of Miami mayor is putting his experience to the test. With $213 million in voter-approved Building Better Communities General Obligation Bonds at his fingertips, Mr. Suarez said that he plans to push a number of projects, including the restoration of the Coconut Grove Playhouse.
The theater, which closed its doors in 2006, is in desperate need of redevelopment. The commissioner is working to transfer its title to the county and raise additional funds in hopes the project will soon reach completion.
"Almost everyone agrees that you need about $30 million for refurbishing and reconstruction," he said. "There's $20 million available from [general obligation] bonds, so we have to find the other $10 million. I'm working with some private-sector people who are going to be kept anonymous until we're sure we have an agreement."
His push, however, may hit a roadblock. The commission recently moved to lower the county's millage rate to 2009 levels, blocking a number of projects from immediate funding.
Mr. Suarez said he is dissatisfied with the 2011-2012 budget for a number of reasons, the greatest being the pay-cut discrepancy between county employees making more than $50,000 and those who earn less.
"I'm opposed to the budget as now presented," he said. "It doesn't streamline the bureaucracy, it doesn't reduce salaries and it doesn't reduce the number of people who earn those high salaries."
Mr. Suarez discussed his plans for District 7, his thoughts on the recent county reconsolidation and his push to strengthen the county's transportation system several weeks ago with Miami Today staff writer Ashley Hopkins at his downtown Miami office.
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