Miami-Dade County's libraries and their workers are safe — for now.
During a marathon session that stretched into early Wednesday morning, Miami-Dade commissioners decided to use a rainy-day fund to avoid cutting library hours and laying off 169 workers.
The Miami Herald reports the plan comes at a cost. It will create a $20 million budget deficit next year to continue funding the 49 libraries at the same level as this year.
Mayor Carlos Gimenez warned against tapping into the one-time reserves, saying if no changes are made the county will have to either cut services or raise property taxes next year.
"Eventually, this government is going to have to face reality," Giminez said. "I'd rather face it now than later. It's pretty tough to raise taxes when you're going to election."
Commissioners voted 8-4 in favor of using $7.8 million in library reserves.
"It's on us," said Vice Chairman Lynda Bell. "It's our responsibility."
Library workers attended the hearing, which started at 5:01 p.m. Tuesday and ended at 1:35 a.m. Wednesday.
The Herald reports the board briefly gave consideration to a proposal by Commissioner Sally Heyman to raise the property tax rate that funds libraries in a reversal of a decision in July to hold the rate steady. Seven of the 13 commissioners appeared to favor the proposal and delay the final budget hearing from Sept. 19 to October. Fearing a veto by the mayor, however, they opted for using the reserve fund.
They mayor said he's confident his staff will find a way to keep all libraries open for 40 hours a week. Without the reserve funding, about a third of the libraries would have scaled back their hours dramatically — opening for about 16 hours a week.
While a majority of the 100 people attending the hearing opposed the cuts, some said they can't afford higher tax bills.
"No more taxes," Modesto Perez said in Spanish. "Enough already."
won't be closing and 169 workers won't be laid off thanks to an early-morning vote by commissioners.
During a meeting that began Tuesday afternoon, the Miami-Dade Commission also decided early Wednesday that library hours won't be slashed either.
The Miami-Herald reports the decision to keep funding for the county's 49 libraries at the same level as this year will create a $20 million budget deficit next year.
Mayor Carlos Gimenez warned against using the reserve funding. He says unless the county overhauls the way it funds and runs the libraries, they'll have to cut services or raise property tax next year.
Commissioners voted 8-4 in favor of using the $7.8 million in library reserves.