Animal activists staged a demonstration outside the county building ahead of the Miami-Dade County Commission budget meeting Tuesday to protest proposed cuts to funding for animal services.
Their beef with Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez centers on a straw vote in which just under 500,000 voters approved a yearly $19 million program to spay and neuter dogs and cats.
Gimenez originally said he would abide with the vote but now that political realities are such that raising taxes are unpopular, the mayor does not want to raise the county millage rate.
"We never imagined in a million years the vote would not count," said Michael Rosenberg, with Pets' Trust Miami. "We are here today to say when you vote in Dade County it means something."
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The mayor said that he favors keeping taxes flat and can still squeeze $4 million out of the county budget to give the Pets' Trust project a start.
"$4 million is 40 percent more for animal services over last year's budget," Gimenez said.
Gimenez said that money can fund a good start for the program the Pets' Trust advocates.
"It was a straw ballot. People did not know the consequences and the process. There is money in this budget to begin the plan and save as many animals as we can," he said.
The mayor and commissioners are wrestling with cutbacks in the fire services and library after the commission voted down any tax increases.