Miami-Dade Won't Close Any Libraries Now, But Huge Layoffs and Reduced Hours Are Likely
Six weeks ago, Miami-Dade County commissioners refused to touch the property tax rate, knowing that without an increase they'd have to drastically chop services. County Mayor Carlos Gimenez's solution -- shuttering 22 libraries -- was met with a rowdy public protest.
This weekend, Gimenez told commissioners he'd found a way to balance the budget while keeping all the libraries open. Hooray! But it turns out that solution involves laying off 169 staffers and slashing hours.
The library layoffs are likely to raise the most ire as commissioners meet today on the budget, but the Miami-Dade Fire Department would also lose 59 firefighters and three trucks.
For the library system, the layoffs would mean about a third of the system's 461 staffers getting a pink slip and would force all libraries to open for about three-quarters their current schedule.
"To move toward a sustainable library system in the future, we must shift our perspective on how library services in Miami-Dade County are currently funded," Gimenez wrote to commissioners, according to the Miami Herald.
A Facebook group dedicated to fighting the cutbacks -- part of a protest movement that has also mounted rallies around the County -- quickly slammed the proposal yesterday and asked its 5,000 followers to write to commissioners to oppose the plan.
Lowering taxes to improve the economy may make sense, but not at the cost of layoffs of individuals who have dedicated time and life and have made a career our of public service -- not at the cost of individuals who are the sole breadwinners of their family. What will happen to them, when they are handed their pink slip, and are now overqualified for numerous jobs when employers see that they have a specialized Master's Degree in Library & Information Science?
Furthermore -- what will happen to us? What will happen to us when we go to a library and see that its doors a shuttered 1 more day, or 2 more days?
Commissioners are scheduled to start talking about the budget at 9:30 this morning at County Hall.