The Miami-Dade County Commission defied Mayor Carlos Gimenez Tuesday when it voted to raise the property-tax rate ceiling to avert library layoffs, but not enough to protect police, transit and other services, according to the Miami Herald.
Commissioners adopted other tax rates proposed by Gimenez. The library tax hike came after a contentious meeting where hundreds of citizens made impassioned pleas to keep social programs. Things came to an early crescendo when a man threatened to shoot the commissioners in attendance.
“Enough! I am the people and they took my house. My constitutional right is to shoot you. Every one of you shooting,” the man said before being taken out of county. He was charged with threatening commissioners.
Throughout the budget hearing, Mayor Gimenez continued to stick to his pledge of no tax hikes and only austerity cuts. Gimenez also attacked the unions saying they will be responsible for some of the deep cuts to police and library personnel.
“I urge you to send a clear message to our community and to our unions that you will stand firm, that you want to continue concessions,” Mayor Gimenez told the commissioners.
Gimenez wants unions to continue to give back previous benefits concessions that are scheduled to snap back. The 15 percent giveback, according to Gimenez, would allow the county to avoid the worst case scenario under his no new revenue plan, laying off 674 employees including 230 police positions.
As the day wore on, the police union fought back against cuts by making a point of the threats made against the commissioners.
“Without hesitation, Madame Chairman, you called the police to take care of the situation. You called the police,” said John Rivera of the Fraternal Order of Police. “Here is the interesting part. You want to tell the public. The truth is if that was a civilian having a neighborhood dispute; we do not even send the police.”
The commission votes today will set a ceiling on the property tax rates. Commissioners can lower the rates before the final budget is voted on in September, but they can’t raise them, according to the Herald.