Commissioners vote to save libraries and avoid layoffs
MIAMI (WSVN) -- Miami-Dade Commissioners voted to save several South Florida libraries and their employees during a marathon session to avoid cutting hours and laying off workers.
Eight and a half hours after starting, the Miami-Dade County Commission meeting ended at 1:35 a.m. on Wednesday.
At the end, in a eight to four vote, commissioners decided not to start a new chapter for the Public Library System and stopped the once threatening closures. "I'm OK with a compromise. All libraries are going to be open, the librarians that we have today will have their jobs," Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said.
At stake, was laying off 169 library workers and cutting hours at a third of the county's 49 library branches.
The commission was able to sidestep the issue by voting to pull money from the Rainy Day Reserve fund, which is $7.8 million. Commissioner Sally Heyman voted for the move. "It's not the stepchild of services down low on the pecking order, that's why it has its own special taxing district," Heyman said.
The fix will be temporary, next year there can still be a $20 million hold or commissioners can decide on raising taxes. "It's really an issue. Do you want to deal with this problem now or you just want to postpone it and deal with it next year? There are not guarantees next year if we are going to have a good economy," Commissioner Esteban Bovo said.
The commission's decision will not only affect those who work at the library, but the thousands of people across Miami-Dade County who use the facility. "Yes, it's good. Education is number one," a woman said about the use of libraries.
The layoff of 59 firefighters and the elimination of three fire trucks have not been saved, for now. The county hopes a federal grant will save the jobs of firefighters.
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