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The Miami-Dade Commission's decision to keep the property-tax rate flat could mean the closing of 22 of the county's 49 libraries.
In an 8-4 vote Tuesday, the commission approved the flat property-tax rate, which could result in closing 10 storefronts and 12 other libraries and lay off 251 library employees, according to the resolution. It also calls for closing six fire-rescue units and laying off 149 fire-rescue employees.
The 22 libraries to be closed are 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, the Miami Herald reported.
The libraries chosen to be closed were based on whether it is in a county-owned building or storefront and its location. The 10 libraries located in commercial buildings would be closed.
But the library department is trying to keep facilities open throughout the county.
The budget will be approved after two public meetings in September. Until then, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said his administration will look for ways to minimize cuts, the newspaper reported.
Commissioner Javier Souto said the libraries were "sacred" and compared closing one to closing a church, the Miami Herald reported.
After hours of discussion, the commissioners agreed to not raise taxes, even though they didn't like the potential cuts.
“This is not the year to be talking about increases,” Commissioner Juan C. Zapata concluded.
The Friends of the Miami-Dade Public Library, which is a non-profit organization supporting the county library system, released a statement Wednesday on its website asking for the community's support and donations.
"The Friends of the Miami-Dade Public Library are extremely disappointed by the County Commission’s budget decision yesterday which will effectively close almost half of the County’s public libraries. Unfortunately, it appears that the Commission does not realize the true impact of their vote," the statement said. "The vote will not only result in the loss of jobs and branch closures, but will severely limit, if not eliminate, the many invaluable programs and resources that the library system offers its community."