Library Supporters Feel Betrayed By Mayor Gimenez's Budget

Categories: News

After releasing the proposed budget for next year, it was clear Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez is looking for a quick fix for the county's libraries.

In a press conference Tuesday, Gimenez proposed to raise the library tax rate, but only enough to allocate $45 million to the financially troubled system. He also suggested a reduction of 94 full-time positions, which would be replaced with part-time staff.

"This option allows us to keep all our libraries open with the same number of hours, but with staffing adjustments," Gimenez said.

Library advocates are steamed. They aim demand $64 million. "Libraries are not just buildings with caretakers," said Terry Murphy, a board member of Friends of the Miami-Dade Public Library. "Gimenez thinks he can just bring in someone to open and close doors, but professional staff is crucial to a library."

See also: Miami-Dade Mayor's Budget Means Cuts to Police, Jails, and Libraries

This comes after Gimenez openly questioned whether the county was overpaying its professional library staff earlier this year. The average salary for a librarian last year was $63,000, which meets with the national average. Gimenez also said Tuesday that he would not support any property tax increases, leaving library advocates questioning his commitment to supporting community interests.

"The idea that we would lose 100 professional staff and take a budget cut is just entirely contrary to the public opinion," Murphy said. "This is not what the community wants."

Commissioners have until next Tuesday, July 15 to decide whether to increase the tax rate for libraries. If the rate is raised to generate $64 million, libraries could restore material budgets and maintain professional services. That means new books and publications.

In the past two years, libraries have seen back-to-back crises with library tax cuts. Last year alone, more than 20 libraries were expected to close because of a lack of tax revenue. Then cash reserves came in to save the libraries for one more year.

With a $50 million budget and only $30 million in tax revenue, the county with two options for the next fiscal year: close library doors and fire librarians or raise the tax rate.

"Historically, libraries have not had alternative funding," Murphy said. "So whatever tax you levy is what you use. That's why it is important that commissioners set the millage rate higher."

While the next fiscal year does not begin until October 1, commissioners now have the final say on how libraries will fare next year. Although the budget will not be finalized until September, the fate of libraries will be determined by the millage rate, another term for special tax rate, that commissioners decide on next week.

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Gladys N Juan
Gladys N Juan

I wonder if he cut his own salary to help with the budget deficit...Libraries and police are needed, especially in Miami.

Alex Hernandez
Alex Hernandez

I wouldn't expect any different from the king of the phillistines.


In just five-points, read a scathing overview of the blatant mismanagement of Miami-Dade taxpayer's money by the county Mayor. Services to residents are stomped on in favor of flashy and expensive projects that favor lobbyist friends.

In the meantime, all of the young librarians are discouraged and so they look to make careers elsewhere. There seems to be no future, no career path, no succession plan. Staff have quit MDPLS for positions in Broward, Tampa, Wyoming, Boston, Alaska, fleeing to anywhere and everywhere else. This is a huge brain drain.

So what will be left behind in this once award winning organization is a group of soon to be retirees. The ones hot out of school, who are progressive, cutting edge, forward-looking, wouldn’t think to sacrifice their careers, their dignity, and their family’s financial security at MDPLS.

Tony Prieto
Tony Prieto

Take away free education for those in need and reduce the amount of police. Recipe for disaster.

DRAKEMALLARD.0 topcommenter

where is a provisions to cut benefits/ services and lifetime health coverage, salaries for Politicians? It's a big club and you ain't in it

The real owners are the big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions. Forget the politicians, they're an irrelevancy. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don't. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They've long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the statehouses, the city halls. They've got the judges in their back pockets. And they own all the big media companies, so that they control just about all of the news and information you hear. They've got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying ­ lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want; they want more for themselves and less for everybody else."    "But I'll tell you what they don't want.  They don't want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don't want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. They're not interested in that. That doesn't help them. That's against their interests. They don't want people who are smart enough to sit around the kitchen table and figure out how badly they're getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fucking years ago.    "You know what they want? Obedient workers ­ people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork but just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, reduced benefits, the end of overtime and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it. And, now, they're coming for your Social Security. They want your fucking retirement money. They want it back, so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They'll get it. They'll get it all, sooner or later, because they own this fucking place. It's a big club, and you ain't in it. You and I are not in the big club."   "

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