Dear Miami Beach Residents,
I hope this email finds you and your family doing well. On September 12th, the Commission had a nearly 14-hour marathon meeting deliberating on a number of important items including the budget for the upcoming year. Some of the items I sponsored included a new ordinance requiring better notifications and procedures when there is a proposed demolition of a building in Miami Beach as well as a discussion item on the Indian Creek Seawall Replacement and Flooding Mitigation Projects. Unfortunately, we have learned that due to mistakes made by prior employees and administration, the Indian Creek Projects will likely not be completed for another two and a half years resulting in continued lane closures. I will continue to monitor this project and report back on its progress. The Commission also discussed an ordinance which would allow for criminal penalties if someone is caught working without a business tax receipt. This ordinance passed 4 – 3; I voted against it, finding it too severe. Those ordinances and more will come back to the Miami Beach Commission for second reading at our next full Commission meeting on October 17th.
There are several upcoming meetings leading up the next full Commission meeting on October 17th. One of those is the Neighborhoods Committee meeting on Wednesday, September 26th at 9 am in Commission Chambers. There are various items being discussed, but one of the most important to me is the item on crime which I have placed on the agenda. Although we hear from our Police Chief that crime is down, the perception is that crime is up, especially in the entertainment district of South Beach. There is also a new area of concern as we have been advised that some people engaging in criminal activity have moved up along the boardwalk and are congregating in the huts along there. As such, we will also be discussing whether these huts should be removed. I am pushing for solutions to our crime problems. If you are concerned, please join us at the Neighborhoods Committee meeting and let us hear from you.
Later that evening on September 26th at 5 pm we will have the Second Reading and vote on the City of Miami Beach Budget. I voted against the budget on first reading on September 12th. The general fund balance is up almost $50,000,000 from just three years ago to now over $345,000,000. The total budget for all funds now exceeds $630,000,000 and the annual pension obligations exceed $70,000,000. I am waiting on information related to how many employees are presently earning $100,000 and above. It appears that over the last five years our city staff has grown, the amount of the salaries have grown and the number of departments has grown. These additional salaries will convert to pension obligations eventually and I remain concerned about the City of Miami Beach’s ability to continue to pay for these pension obligations. I have asked the administration for more information about these salaries and pension obligations before the September 26th meeting to make an informed decision.
Finally, on September 28th starting at 1:30 pm, the Land Use & Development Committee will convene in Commission Chambers. We have two significant items on the agenda. The first is Mayor Gelber’s referral of the 500 – 700 Alton Road upzoning of the property to 44 stories. This item has become contentious due to language that could allow up to 560 feet in height, well more than the 440 feet in height that was previously contemplated. In addition, there are a number of issues to be resolved with regard to the public park that would be created. There will also be another discussion on the North Beach Town Center which has become challenging due to proposed construction which would be nearly double the height that was anticipated by many to be capped at 125 feet.
I urge you to stay involved and I hope to see you at one or more of these important upcoming city meetings. Until then I wish you and yours all my best and know I will be here advocating for common sense policies for the residents of Miami Beach.