Miami-Dade Commission meets to discuss budget - WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

Miami-Dade Commission meets to discuss budget

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MIAMI (WSVN) -- The Miami-Dade Commission convened to discuss budget issues on Tuesday ahead of a full budget vote in September.

Property taxes and union concessions that could prevent proposed cuts were the topics of discussion during the meeting. Some local labor unions want to see the property tax rate slightly increase as a way to save nearly 700 county jobs. The job cuts were proposed in Mayor Carlos Gimenez's 2014-2015 budget proposal, as Gimenez wants to keep property taxes at the current rate.

Gimenez presented his 2014-2015 budget last week. He is working to close a $64 million budget shortfall. To do so, close to 675 county jobs may be eliminated. Of those jobs, about 300 police jobs are on the line.

"You have to make decisions that are going to effect the people by any means necessary," said one woman fighting to save county jobs during the meeting Tuesday.

Miami-Dade County Police Benevolent Association President John Rivera said the union needs a property tax hike. When asked what it's going to take in order to keep the police jobs from being eliminated in Miami-Dade County, Rivera said "$4.10 a month from a household valued at $150,000, and that's what it takes to keep the public as safe as it is now, which we know is not very safe."

Library supporters are also pushing for an increase in property taxes. If certain concessions are not made and property taxes are not raised in September, the library system could face the loss of around 200 jobs. Mercedes Munies, a library worker, said, "What we're asking is for them to take time to consider it and give the libraries enough money, so we can get back there on top, you know, where we were before."

"We need libraries now more than ever. Libraries are sanctuaries," said another county supporter.

However, Gimenez said that the unions, primarily the police, need to give back a percentage of their health care benefits won in 2011 if they want to see the jobs stay. "By not giving the concessions, by extending the concessions, basically what the unions are doing is they are going to be laying off 700 people, taking the money from those folks and putting it into senior people and the people who are making more into their pockets."

Commissioner Barbara Jordan was open to a tax rate increase. "I just want us to do everything possible to bring our libraries back to where they were, not where they are now," she said.

A public hearing took place Tuesday afternoon regarding the issue of whether or not to raise property taxes. The county commission is expected to vote on the Mayor's proposals Tuesday night. "I'm not asking for any more money," said Gimenez. "I'm not asking for anymore concessions, just maintain the status quo, and we can get through this very, very well."

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