Mayor Gimenez Recommends Closing 22 Libraries, Laying Off 251 Librarians and 149 Firefighters UPDATE

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With County Mayor Carlos Gimenez changing his mind on a tax increase, it's looking more and more likely that 22 of Miami-Dade county's 49 libraries will shutter next year. After a week of opposition to his proposed property tax increases, Gimenez will recommend to county commissioners today that no increase be made, a move that could lead to 251 librarian layoffs plus 149 firefighters getting the axe.

So much for Miami being ranked the 10th smartest city in the country due to "number of libraries per person."

Update: Commissioners have voted 8-4 to keep the property-tax rate flat. That means they'll have to finalize heavy cuts to fire and library services by the start of the fiscal year in October.

The proposed rate change -- which went from 5.37 percent to 4.34 percent before returning to zero -- was meant to keep fire stations and libraries afloat. The library system already had its operating budget cut by 30 percent in 2011, which led to the firing of all part-time employees and a 25 percent reduction of full-time staff.

"People are not in favor of any increased taxes, in any way, shape or form," Gimenez tells the Miami Herald. "I'm not deaf. I can hear the sentiment."

Gimenez outlined deep proposed cuts to libraries and fire services last night. Commissioners still have to approve the cuts and are likely to fight to protect libraries and firefighters in their districts.

An emergency meeting was held yesterday between library branch managers and department heads to talk about the proposed cuts as rumors swirled through local libraries about pending cutbacks. "Things have been changing very rapidly from one minute to the next," said Miami-Dade spokeswoman Vanessa Puig.

The Miami Herald ran a short article on Saturday reporting that 42 libraries might close with 260 employees being laid off -- numbers that were attributed to an internal county memo. For reasons that aren't clear, the entire article was yanked on Monday without explanation.

Librarians and firefighters alike responded to the proposed cuts with fury.

Steve Marshall, a second-generation librarian who was laid off from the West Dade Regional Library in 2011, said the cuts will be an affront to the people who use libraries to better themselves.

"They're some of the last vestiges of the American Dream," he tells Riptide. "The fact that they're constantly targeted shows a callous disregard for providing opportunity for poor and working class people to educate themselves and enjoy services more affluent people take for granted."

Update: After voting to keep taxes flat, these libraries are on the chopping block: California Club, Opa-locka, Golden Glades, Civic Center Kiosk, Lemon City, Little River, Model City, Culmer, North Shore, Shenandoah, South Shore, Fairlawn, Virrick Park, Country Walk, Concord, Sunset, Lakes of the Meadows, Tamiami, West Kendall Regional, Doral, Hialeah Gardens and Palm Springs North, according to the Miami Herald.

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70 comments
hrdheddwoman
hrdheddwoman

There are currently 11 Fire/Rescue Units Placed out of service due to budget constraints. It's Fire/Rescue Roulette. Todays spin of the wheel affects the following neighborhoods. Doral, Miami Springs, Sweetwater, Homestead, West Sunset, West Miami Lakes, Miami Gardens, Sunny Isles, Modello, North Miami Beach and Miami Shores. Do you live in one of these neighborhoods? Do you live in the surrounding neighborhood? If so, your service WILL be affected too, because your fire unit may be responding to a call in the area of one that is shut down? Not willing to gamble on the spin of the wheel? 

CALL MAYOR GIMINEZ AT 305-375-5071 OR EMAIL MAYOR@MIAMIDADE.GOV

hipbilly
hipbilly

Wow. No wonder I don't like Florida. Too much humidity. Too many bugs (many of which apparently hold major public offices: e.g., governor, mayor, senator, etc.). Note to retiring baby-boomers: Stay away!

erngomez
erngomez

sure lets close the libraries and put the remaining children who do care about their future in the street. this will solve everything!

MDDWhite
MDDWhite

I don’t see people doing the math here.

In NYC, libraries are being underfunded by Mayor Bloomberg because he wants to sell them off as real estate deals, but NYC library usage is way up and the amount of money the city spends on things like the new Brooklyn arena (named after the disreputable Barclays bank), if diverted, could easily assuage the funding any funding problems.

Did you know that a couple of Barbara Streisand concerts get subsidized to the tune of $750,000?  But more people visit NYC libraries than all other sports and cultural events combined!

There is a huge economic multiplier benefit to libraries with people starting new businesses and children doing homework to better in school.

Do these closings really numerically related Gimenez’s tax cuts?  Seems an odd way to sell them.  Or is Gimenez looking to sell some libraries?

Beware: It costs far more to replace a library than you get when you sell one off in crony capitalism style.

Michael D. D. White
Citizens Defending Libraries

Elias Eco
Elias Eco

Look up the COMPREHENSIVE ANNUAL FINANCIAL REPORT for 2012 for Miami-dade County....read the line that says " assets EXCEEDS liabilities by 6 BILLION" This is a shell game perpetuated by those who control "budgets" etc.....A budget is not the financial climate of a given county the CAFR is...They just smartly allocate funds to other areas and keep it away from vital services compelling those to take pay cuts etc in lieu of mass firings etc.....WAKE UP!!!

Richard Glukstad
Richard Glukstad

Nobody reads anyway and there never are any fires, so who really cares? Dumb and dumber commissioners strike again!

Sergio Serrano
Sergio Serrano

That's politics 101 for you. Let the work force suffer!

Ess Vee
Ess Vee

Oh no what could we do about this, libraries provide free internet service to those whom can not afford it. This is such a terrible choice!!!! Firefighters uggh what is going on how can they get cut as well.

Phil Ramirez
Phil Ramirez

how about cutting 30% of his and Do-Nothing Commissioners, plus eliminate all their perks and bonuses?

Bling King
Bling King

they need to cut their own pay checks! the state would save millions then they can put it back into our system we would have smart kids once again not greedy POS politicians

Bob Newman
Bob Newman

Close the libraries! They have become homeless shelters. It would be cheaper to buy I-Pads for every kid in Miami than keep cutting back library services..... They cut back on Newspapers & Magazines and operating hours..... What's next lights? Maybe it's finally time to think out of the box and stop cutting and de-centralize the libraries! Let local city government operate them as a symbol of local civic pride instead of an expense line! Maybe cities would start competing to have the best library in the county?

Katherine Autumn Herleman
Katherine Autumn Herleman

Not to mention back pedaling on the no-kill animal shelters even after the vote passed?? I guess saving $20 annually per household in taxes is more important than preventing the deaths of thousands of animals?

Ashley Marie Alvarez
Ashley Marie Alvarez

@steve for your information Gimenez is a democrat ..... so trust me this article wasn't written by a liberal.

James Eagles
James Eagles

@Steve...you're telling on yourself. LOL The next thing I did after I got a new drivers-license when I got here (4 years ago) was to get a library card and unlike you I've been several hundred times since arriving. I only wished they would bring back the Sunday hours. Besides isn't saying Liberals and Libraries have something in common like saying Apples and Rocks fall from the same tree?

Ashley Marie Alvarez
Ashley Marie Alvarez

Gimenez will be out soon .... and maybe then he can learn how to spell his last name correctly with a J....

James Eagles
James Eagles

so glad this silly bastard's in Miami-Dade and not in Broward!

Steve Klare
Steve Klare

so Miami is smart based on the number of librarians per capita we have. Really? This sounds like typical LIberal BS....I've lived here going on 13 years been in a library twice... How relevant are they anyway? these days.

Andy Fuentes
Andy Fuentes

OR we could keep raising taxes Ad infinitum

Dicky Bobby Perez
Dicky Bobby Perez

<- let me handle this. nah but on the real. cutting funds from the fire department shouldn't be an option. 1st responders are viable to our community especially a county as big as ours. only way i see a better outcome if dade county actually breaks up to municipalities ( like city of Westchester, east & west kendall, and so on.) but as far as libraries involved, i do see why it would make sense. i might get hated for this but with the technology we have today, it has destroyed this institution. i call for a way for citiesand counties to create an e-library system. lets be real. when was the last time you 4 sqared your location at a library. i still believe that libraries still pays an important role for communities especially since still in this day, there are a lot of families w/out computers and such. maybe a reduction of size and staff for this use is viable. although if you do go but e - library systems are the way of the future. i also agree we need to see transparency with elected officials and see wtf they are paying themselves and allowance. oh or hand the libraries to the municipalities of that area.

Anthonyvop1
Anthonyvop1 topcommenter

Cut wasteful programs.  Stop all cronyism.  Stop all but the most essential of entitlement programs.

If you can walk and count to 10 get a F*CKING JOB!!!   


......And yes there are plenty of jobs out there.  BK is hiring.  Tomatoes in the Redlands need picking.

Nomejodas Pleez
Nomejodas Pleez

But Gimenez does receive other benefits through past government employers. Gimenez, a former firefighter and fire chief, receives his health insurance from the City of Miami Fire Rescue, According to a Herald article printed days before Gimenez won the election, Gimenez already receives a pension -- about $126,800 a year -- from the Miami firefighter pension fund. A lil ironic dont u think??? How about you give that up mr. Gimenez?? U know since ur so keen on cutting firefighters and libraries??!!

Nomejodas Pleez
Nomejodas Pleez

I dont understand why dont they just cut their own paycheck, staff paychecks, monthly allowances?? Why cant they buy their own office supplies like teachers do everyday out of their own money????? Why would they? They make sure all those extras fall into "the budget" and The People (US) they "work" for DO NOT!

René Quijada
René Quijada

That is Miami republicans for you, serving the rich, screwing the middle class.

Mercy Suarez
Mercy Suarez

I will echo the sentiment that some kids need access to the library for homework...not every child has a home computer...and when you start taking books away from the populace, you start a very dangerous cycle of depriving people of imagination, dreams, ambitions and knowledge...we cannot afford more ignorance in this country; we're already on overload with the majority of kids not being able to read and writing in textspeak...

magdacarre53
magdacarre53

Now Mr. Gimenez will blame us the taxpayers for SAYING NO to his incompetence and his noncompetitive selected staff for NOT BALANCING THE BUDGET. Come on didn’t YOU LEARN ACCOUNTABILITY …….LOL YOU JUST APPROVED TODAY ALONG WITH YOUR COMMISSIONERS 885 MILLION DOLLARS IN BONDS FOR THE PORT…FOR WHAT…DO YOU KNOW? WE CERTAINLY DON’T….AND HOW ARE YOU GOING TO PAY FOR IT……OH YES A MAKE BELIEVE ENTERPRISE …..LET’S BE REAL…

Chris Utkus
Chris Utkus

How's that new baseball stadium doing?

Aldo Malbec
Aldo Malbec

Are we gonna get tax less? So that's money on his pocket.

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

the thing of it is the rich can BUY their books anywhere so who cares about educating poor kids anyway

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

yeah baby.................as long as we got a $562,ooo,ooo baseball stadium we're in the clear here................can't get no commissioner kick-backs from libraries

internetinternet
internetinternet

EMT lobby is too strong.  They will never fire anybody until the county collapses and becomes Detroit. 

vikingwarbrides
vikingwarbrides

A.  Start by cutting all of the perks that the county mayor and commissioners get.  Show us that you are willing to sacrifice.

B.  Go after the Marlins and get back some of that money that they stole from us the taxpayers.  

C.  Stop giving people in the higher offices raises.

When you start doing that, then I'll be happy to pay more property taxes. 

SEEYA
SEEYA

How about taking that $1 million plus dollars you screwed the Dolphins out of, and putting it towards keeping the libraries and firefighters open and employed?

Xoo Toth
Xoo Toth

they need to lay his ass off.

Derrick Christopher Mustelier
Derrick Christopher Mustelier

Blame the people, too. They nearly rioted when he talked about raising the property taxes that fund the library system and fire department. Also, call Mayor Gimenez and let him know these cuts are unacceptable. 305-375-5071

Christina Bauer
Christina Bauer

How many more days do we have to put up with him and Rick Scott??

Roy Gonzalez
Roy Gonzalez

Meanwhile the chief of the port of miami got a $160k raise!

Anthonyvop1
Anthonyvop1 topcommenter

@René Quijada What Republicans?  The entire commision is made up of Democrats and R.I.N.O.s

There isn't a true conservative in the bunch.  

Here is an Idea.  How about instead of maintaining taxes at the same level we cut them by 25%.  There isn't a single department or program that isn't bloated with typical bureaucracy or is a waste in it's entirety.

Just tell every Dept. head they have to cut their budgets by 25% while improving services or else they and everyone they hired will be immediately dismissed.  Then stand back and watch how efficient they suddenly become.

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