Recently, I heard a few people in our community are unhappy about the fact that the City spent over $15 Million to build a first class school for children in this community. They are also unhappy about the fact that the City spent a significant amount of money to build first class parks in the City.
The progress that the City has made since its creation in 1997 is amazing. Unfortunately, a small group of people are unhappy about the progress. In fact, they are seeking to stop progress by asking residents to support an amendment to the City Charter that would require voters to approve by referendum spending on capital projects such as police vehicles, parks, schools, landscaping and drainage projects.
Requiring residents to vote on each capital project that exceeds $500,000 is a bad idea that will hurt the progress of the City. I do not want to discuss the legality of the proposed spending cap on capital projects in this article but it is important to point out that such cap may be illegal under law because cities are required under the law to spend significant amount of funds on capital projects to maintain certain levels of service. Aspending cap on capital projects is impractical and unreasonable. If the spending cap was in place at the time we were planning to build a school, one person could have stopped the construction of our great school because she or he is upset because of the possibility of parents parking in the parking lot of Publix.
Our City is a magnificent City because our residents have supported the City Commission’s efforts to make our community a first class community. Your support has allowed the City Commission to provide for your safety. The City has spent millions to provide our Police officers with the best tools to fight crime. It cost more than $500,000 to buy more than 50 police vehicles for our outstanding police department. Imagine if we have to wait on the next election to provide our officers with the tools to keep our community safe. We cannot afford to put our officers at risk. Some of you may recall that we became a City because Miami- Dade County failed to provide adequate police resources to our community.
The spending cap would not only prevent the City from effectively and immediately fighting crime but it would also prevent the City from beautifying our streets and fixing drainage problems immediately. We recently spent over $9 Million Dollars to fix drainage problems throughout the central area of the City. The City cannot wait for the next election to fix drainage problems. Driving in flooded streets is a safety hazard. In other words, we will not continue to be a first class community if a spending cap is imposed on capital projects.
As your City Commissioner, I realized a long time ago that the job of the City Commission is to make this community a better community. We value residents input on the future of our community. We invite residents to attend commission meetings where capital projects are discussed and approved. Capital projects are created based on the vision of residents. If the majority of the residents are not happy with a particular capital project, the City Commission will listen to your voices to determine whether the project should go forward.