Major cuts coming in Miami-Dade County budget

Miami-Dade firefighters, police stand to lose millions of dollars in funding

By Ben Kennedy - Reporter

MIAMI - A budget battle continues to grow in Miami-Dade County, as commissioners voted on a maximum tax rate for the 2014-15 budget year.

The county commission meeting was packed Tuesday with people sporting yellow and blue shirts, to talk about the proposed budget and fight or funds this coming fiscal year.

"Everything is up in the air," said Al Cruz, president of the Metro-Dade International Association of Fire Fighters. "When it comes to people's safety you can't play Russian roulette. You have to fund it properly."

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez's budget calls for $4.5 billion to keep the county running every day, plus $1.6 billion in capital costs.

However, without union concessions, 700 county jobs will be cut, including 95 from the library system.

"The libraries have gone through a 50 percent cut over the past 3 years," said Ricci Yuhico of North Dade Regional Library. "We knew times were hard with the recession. But to get this money would mean we could restore the services we lost three years ago."

The money headed to keep county libraries open could come from the fire department, which would lose $3 million.

The Miami-Dade Police Department also stands to take a cut and lose $10 million in funding.

"Like I've said before, start packing your bags and get out of this county," said Cruz. "Because you're not going to be safe and we're not going to be able to protect you."

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