The Sunny Isles Beach City Commission recently approved the 2010- 2011 fiscal year budget without cutting services, tapping reserves or eliminating employees – good news many other municipalities and counties round the country have not been able to report given the state of the economy.
Thanks in part to franchise fee revenues from new construction and a minimal increase in the property tax rate (up from last year’s 2.65 to 2.89 per $1,000 of taxable assessed value), the city was able to avoid the elimination of programs and services. Due to declining property values, many homeowners’ tax bills may be less than they were last year. The new Sunny Isles Beach 2.89 millage rate also remains one of the lowest in Miami-Dade County (in neighboring Golden Beach, the millage rate is now 8.50).
The budget further reflects the City Commission’s commitment to attain optimal cost efficiency as this year’s $27.8 million budget is about comparable to last year’s $27.5 million budget – and even lower than the $29.2 million budget for fiscal year 2008-2009.
Here is a synopsis of the high levels of service contributing to the great quality of life Sunny Isles Beach residents and visitors of all ages will continue to enjoy yearround:
Transportation Services: Feel like getting around town – but don’t feel like driving? Just hop aboard one of the city’s convenient shuttle buses – a free transportation service provided seven days a week with three different routes.
Educational Services: Sunny Isles Beach Community School principal Dr. Annette Weissman was recently proud to report, “SIB Community School has been recognized once again as an ‘A’ school. Our students’ performance on the 1st and 2nd grade Stanford Achievement Tests and on the FCAT for grades 3-7 was terrific. “This year, we’re delighted to welcome our eighth grade students and the new teachers we’ve added to our staff. In addition we are excited about the expansion of the music department to include a keyboard lab. We will also be opening our indoor exercise room, offering new after school clubs and enriching our mathematical and science resources.”
In keeping with the city’s commitment to fostering future leaders, the Sunny Isles Beach City Commission approved a college scholarship program for high school students who graduate from a public high school in Miami-Dade County. The scholarship recipients (who must have at least one year residency in Sunny Isles Beach) will be selected by a committee composed of the Police Chief and principals from the Sunny Isles Beach K-8 Community School and the Alonzo and Tracy Mourning High School.
The committee will establish additional criteria for awarding the scholarships. The first scholarships will be awarded in May of 2011 in the amount of $5000 each. The city will award four scholarships per year.
In addition to the scholarships, the city has made generous financial contributions to the Sunny Isles Beach K-8 Community School and the Alonzo and Tracy Mourning High School to support the educational endeavors of young residents.
Recreational Services: Sunny Isles Beach was already heralded for building a multitude of parks including Samson Oceanfront Park, Sen. Gwen Margolis Park and Town Center Park – but now, just ask any of the kids enjoying basketball and little league – or fitness enthusiasts working out in the Fitness Center if they think Pelican Community Park provides enriching recreational services and odds are you’ll hear a resounding “three cheers” for the award-winning addition to the community.
Now, residents are looking forward to the opening of Heritage Park at the north end of the city – and even more new parks are coming to the south end of the city on the west side of Collins Avenue featuring open views of the Iintracoastal and walking paths adjacent to the water.
The Sunny Isles Beach Cultural and Human Services Department is comprised of a winning team always scoring major points for planning a myriad of programs and activities residents are invited to sign up for such as ballroom dancing, a music club, drama club, fine art for youth, computer classes, chess, Spanish, karate and yoga.
Also “at your service” when it comes to scheduling special trips and events, the city has planned a “have a ball” fall calendar providing great opportunities to experience culture, fun and enriching activities:
Booogie by the Beach, Oct. 30-31 – Free!
7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Pelican Community Park
The city’s “spooktacular” two-night Halloween celebration will feature games, rides, music, fun foods, contests and the spookiest haunted house in town! .
Golden Era Film Series, Nov. 9 – F ree!
10 a.m. to noon at Pelican Community Park
Free movie, popcorn, coffee, water and boxed lunch
Reservations required, phone: 305-792- 1706
Four Seasons Cultural Series, Nov. 17
7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Sunny Isles Beach Community School featuring pianist Kemal Gekic, residents $10, non-residents $ 20
CULTURAL EVENT TRIPS
Oct. 21, 7 p.m., Dreamgirls at Arsht Center for the Performing Arts
Direct from the world famous Apollo Theatre in New York City, a brand new, sensational stage production of Dreamgirls. Dreamgirls tells the rags to riches story of a 1960s Motown girl group and the triumphs and tribulations that come with fame and fortune. Ziff Ballet Opera House, seats in Lower Orchestra Residents, $71, non-residents $76
Nov. 4, 12:30 p.m., On the Town, Broward Stage Door Theatre
The story of a 24-hour adventure involving three sailors on leave from their ship. This exhilarating Broadway show was also made into one of MGM’s biggest movie musicals starring Gene Kelley and Frank Sinatra. Theatre 1 Residents $41, non-residents $46
Nov. 12, 1 p.m., Trip to Egyptian Gallery Bass Museum of Art
The new Egyptian Gallery presented by the Kaiser and Kosh Family Gallery will showcase the sarcophagi, mummy and objects of Egyptian antiquity on long-term loan from the Brooklyn Museum, Lowe Art Museum and Private Collections. Price includes guided tour and museum admission. Residents $20, non-residents $25
Hi-Tech Services: Sunny Isles Beach offers residents and visitors free WiFi throughout the city’s parks as part of a Wireless Island Project. All of the city parks are WiFi Hotspots where Internet connectivity is free, wireless, and commercial- free. The city parks that are WiFi Hotspots include Bella Vista Bay Park, Pier Park, Samson Oceanfront Park, Town Center Park, Sen. Gwen Margolis Park, Golden Shores Community Park, Pelican Community Park, and the future Heritage Park. WiFi is also available at the Sunny Isles Beach Government Center.
To help facilitate interactive communication between residents and city government, Snny isles Beach has also established “eSIBi” – a noification service allowing participants to sign up to receive information from the city via e-mail. To subscribe, log on to the city’s website sibfl.net and click on the eSIBi tab. Then you can enter your e-mail address and choose from the type of information you want to receive. Choices include: Adult and Senior Activities, City Events and Concerts, Cultural Event Trips, Emergency Notices, SIB TV, Traffic Alerts and Youth Activities.
Excellent Police Services:
“Over the past 12 years, this agency has received numerous awards and presentations for its Police Department,” Sunny Isles Beach Police Chief Fred Maas recently wrote. “All officers wearing the badge for Sunny Isles Beach Police are the driving force behind each of those recognitions. They are the ones ‘making the difference’ in the manner in which they serve this community.
“I’m very proud of the fine work and dedication that these officers put forth. Some might say these are ordinary people doing an extraordinary job. I say, they are extraordinary people doing an extraordinary job!”
Led by Chief Maas, the Sunny Isles Beach Police Department strives to create programs that reduce the need for police response while creating a safer, more secure environment. The department’s quick response time (less than two minutes) is one of its most effective tools in combating crime, saving lives in emergency medical situations and capturing perpetrators.
Officers have access to emergency lifesaving equipment such as A.E.D.’s (heart defibrillators) and Jet Ski body baskets attached for ocean rescue. Officers are also detached to work with other agencies (Drug Enforcement Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation) to resolve problems and share in asset forfeitures, which in turn creates additional resources to benefit the city.
Officers patrol the city on motorcycles, jet skis, boats, ATV’s, bicycles, and in patrol cars. Special programs offered throughout the year include Red Ribbon Week, food drives, Toys for Tots, Kid Fest (including fingerprinting and ID program), the Police Officers Assistance Trust 5K Run, career day, and government day. Crime prevention programs are also offered including crime prevention and awareness, identity theft, vandalism, anti-robbery, hurricane preparedness, gun safety locks, vehicle identification, anti-theft “club” giveaways, and fraud and scam education. To contact the Sunny Isles Beach Police Department, phone: 305-947-4440.
Beautification Services: The Sunny Isles Beach Public Works Department is dedicated to keeping the city “clean and pristine,” providing services such as litter pickup to keep storm drains clear and promote a neat appearance throughout the city. At virtually every City Commission meeting agenda items focus on goals to ensure Sunny Isles Beach beautification and capital improvement projects are continually progressing. From landscaping maintenance and enhanced streetscape designs – to undergrounding utilities and promoting innovative “go green” initiatives, the city is always striving to “make the best even better” – a goal that will be facilitated by $18.5 million in bonds the city has been able to secure for parks and stormwater capital costs.