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Miami-Dade Commission approves flat tax rate

Budget to require cuts to county's library, fire-rescue departments

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MIAMI – Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners voted 8-4 on a flat tax rate, which will require cuts and layoffs in the county's library and fire-rescue departments.

When Mayor Carlos Gimenez unveiled his budget last week, he proposed a property tax increase of about 5 percent. He spent Tuesday backpedaling on the proposal.

"There is no appetite for a tax rate increase right now. Citizens of Miami-Dade County, as their mayor, I have to listen to the people and so we revised it to a flat rate," said Gimenez.

At the commission meeting, Miami-Dade Library Director Raymond Santiago listed the 22 branches that would close, adding that 251 workers would be laid off.

County fire rescue would shut down six units and lay off 149 firefighters.

"When we say that the unit's being taken out of service, it means it's not going to be available," said Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief David Downey. "It's not like it's only 12 hours a day. It's completely out of service."

"This is not a fun thing for me, okay," said Gimenez.

The budget also cut funding to the Pets' Trust Miami. Supporters weren't pleased.

"The people voted to stop the killing of innocent of animals now. Enough with their expiration dates," said Dahlia Kane.

"Today, you have the opportunity of making history or ignoring what the people have voted for," added Bernie Alfonso.

Gimenez has proposed to give the Miami-Dade Animal Services Department an extra $4.5 million for its budget.