Tough-talking mayor cites ‘mismanagement’ in county project
Written by Miami Today on August 30, 2017
Citing “gross negligence and mismanagement” by at least seven county employees, Miami-Dade Manager Carlos Giménez last week told county commissioners by memo that a major renovations project in Liberty City is facing a $3.5 million shortfall.
The mayor said county staff had recently discovered that a change order will be required to complete the Joseph Caleb Parking Garage and Tower Courtroom project, which was budgeted at $28.1 million.
“An established monthly project reconciliation procedure was not adhered to, and the result is a project that is underway that cannot be completed without a change order,” the mayor wrote. A number of other county facilities-related projects may be delayed in order to come up with the money to finish the job, he wrote.
The change order, he said, would come before the county commission for action.
The project is on the site of the former parking lot for the 962-seat Joseph Caleb Auditorium at 5400 NW 22nd Ave., which has featured community forums, concerts, movie screenings and community productions. The center was closed in December 2014 to make way for the project, which is to include a new courthouse with two courtrooms and a parking garage for about 300 cars.
During the closure, public offices in the Caleb Center were to be moved to the Martin Luther King Building on Northwest 62nd Street.
The center had been scheduled to reopen in December 2016.
“The magnitude of this shortfall demonstrates the gross negligence and mismanagement of this project by certain individuals within the Internal Services Department,” the mayor wrote. “The Internal Services Director is undertaking at least seven different disciplinary actions as a result of this mismanagement, up to and including termination.”
Tara Smith, the department’s director, wrote to the mayor that the failure to hold expenditures on the project to the approved budget “shows a complete disregard of the responsibility that public servants hold to be good stewards of our taxpayers’ dollars.”
Ms. Smith, who was not the department director at the time the project began in 2012, wrote that “this is a major failure on the part of my department.”
The mayor wrote that solutions and corrective actions are underway. He did not indicate when the project will be completed, though he did say that the added funds to complete the project will appear in county budgets over the next three years.