The year was 1982. The prestigious magazine, The Economist, printed a lead article that called Miami (Miami-Dade) the American city of the future while so many American cities were living on their past. Today, Miami-Dade is on the verge of bankruptcy figuratively speaking, as the only thing that taxpayers can say is “Give me more services. Lower my taxes.”
We are living in an ostrich head-in-the sand community if we think we can have all the services a quality community can offer it residents on a unrealistically low millage. It is a dream. It is a fantasy. Hell, nearly 75 percent of the current county budget goes for police and fire/rescue. What’s left?
Last fall Mayor Carlos Gimenez hinted at a millage increase and the radio talkshow hosts went on the air and blasted the airways with residents calling in wanting the head of the mayor for proposing a small increase in taxes to prevent firing county employees, reducing salaries, putting county employees on part-time schedules, closing libraries.
What did the mayor do? He ran for the hills, withdrew his proposed minimum millage increase proposal and instead told us how we were going to run a county with fewer services. Shame on him!
I’ve had people say to me “why can’t we cut waste in government? We are not efficient. We waste taxpayer money. If we were more efficient we wouldn’t need to increase taxes or lay off employees. Why can’t we run our county government like a private business?”
Sounds good, but it just doesn’t work.
In the private sector management evaluates a situation. Make a corrective decision, puts it to work, evaluates the progress and make adjustments as needed. In government, the mayor and the county commission evaluate a situation. The mayor makes a proposal to the board of county commissioners. They come up with a different plan and present it to the mayor. Both the mayor and the commissioners consider the feelings of the voters. Do they like the idea? Will they pay for it? If we do it will they reelect us when we ask for their vote?
What will the newspaper editorial writers say? What will the columnists say? What will the governor say? How about the legislature in Tallahassee?
You see, government can’t be run as efficiently as a private corporation. There is only one form of government that can be “almost” as efficient as private industry. That is a dictatorship. And that is the one form of government we don’t want.
Mr. Mayor, I want the county to live up to the image seen by The Economist back in 1982. I want our community to be the community of the future. A thriving community gives opportunity to its citizens to grow and prosper. We hired you to run the county. Do what you need to do to make it happen. Don’t call for a straw vote to get the feel of the community before you take action. We need you to be strong.
Mr. Mayor, tell the public the story of The Great Library of Alexandria. In the 200’s BC Alexandria had the finest library in the known world. Alexandria became the center of learning with hundreds of scholars coming to the city to study and learn. History has traditionally told us that the Romans sacked the city and burned the great library. But, in truth we learned the greatest library known to the world was destroyed by budget cuts, not by fire. Must Miami-Dade become a 21st Century Alexandria with the proposed budget cuts to spare taxpayers paying a few more dollars a year in real estate taxes?
Get before the public and tell it like it is. That’s your job. Do it!
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