By: James Gordon
As reported by the Miami Herald’s Patricia Mazzei, Mayor Carlos Gimenez recently announced that fares for Miami-Dade disabled transit services will remain at $3.50. The fares were originally expected to be raised to $4.00 for the next budget year. The new plan to maintain current fare prices for special transit services was made after the transit department’s revised 2014-15 ride projections revealed that fewer trips are expected to be made in the upcoming year, saving the county an estimated $4 million in operations costs. As a result, disabled Miamians will no longer have to worry about paying more for essential transit services.
While Mayor Gimenez’s announcement is certainly a victory, it is only a single battle won in the war to ensure sustainable funding in the upcoming budget year for an array of vital community services. While our disabled citizens are safe from higher transit fares, Community Based Organizations (CBOs) still face significant funding cuts for the coming budget year. These organizations, many of which provide essential and necessary services to the community, face significant cuts of up to 10%—cuts that could significantly impede their ability to provide the services needed and valued by our community. However, CBOs aren’t the only ones facing the detrimental effects of next years proposed county budget. Despite Miami-Dade county commissioners’ recent popular decision to oppose Mayor Gimenez’s proposal and increase library funding, they still voted to adopt the remainder of Gimenez’s budget proposal. The proposal calls for concessions from the county’s labor unions in order to avoid tax hikes. Unfortunately, without these concessions, the county can expect to see about 600 job layoffs with a large portion coming from the ranks of our police officers.
Nonetheless, the war is not yet over. The final vote on the county budget is not scheduled until September and so the remaining time must be used to take effective action. The remaining weeks until the final vote must be used to contact our commissioners and demand a sustainable budget. Mayor Gimenez and his administration have arranged a series of six town-style meetings to hear from residents about the proposed budget for 2014-15. The meetings will take place at 6p.m. at the following locations and dates:
Aug. 19: Florida City's Hall, 404 W. Palm Dr.
Aug. 21: Little Haiti Cultural Center, 212 NE 59th Terr., Miami
Aug. 26: Palmetto Bay Council Chambers, 9705 E. Hibiscus St.
Aug. 28: West Dade Regional Library, 9445 Coral Way, Miami
Sept. 2: North Dade Regional Library, 2455 183rd St., Miami Gardens
While no one envies the difficult decisions that lie ahead for the Miami-Dade commissioners, it is imperative that we raise our voices, pick up the phones and ensure that the decisions made accurately and effectively address the diverse needs of our South Florida communities.