Miami-Dade Coalition – Special Lib Politics Rodeo
Led by the Coalition to Save our Libraries, a huge number of Miami-Dade library supporters went to fight for their library yesterday at the Board of County Commissioners hearing.
After months of discussions and negotiations with commissioners, in the media, and across the social and civic landscape in the county, supporters packed the chambers to ask for $64 million in stable funding. Public comment was 3 hours and 15 minutes long. It was an awe inspiring and well coordinated push for libraries; it is the biggest advocacy story of the year.
A vote on the new millage delivered a mixed verdict. The Coalition did not get the $64 million that was asked for in both the Mayor's own Blue Ribbon Task Force recommendations and the Library Advisory Board's budget request. The final vote was for $52 million at a 0.2840 millage. This is an $8 million increase over last year. The mayor, Carlos Gimenez, wanted wanted no tax hike and proposed a variety of cuts to staffing, hours, collections, programs, and services. It was an 8-5 vote by the commissioners, 1 vote shy of being veto proof. The mayor has 10 days to decide to veto. September 18th date is the final final vote for to set the rate. While they can't go above the 0.2840 millage, they can potentially find other money.
The $52 million level is $22 million more than the Mayor wanted in his $30 million scenario. While not the $64 million they identified, it is substantially more funding than last year and a significant step in restoring a world class library to full service.
- John Chrastka, Executive Director of EveryLibrary
Instead of a $64 million budget, we got a status quo budget. This means the shortfall created by depleted reserves was filled above the level offered by Mayor Gimenez and there will be no layoffs, which is a far cry from the 90 layoffs in his proposed budget.... Between now and the Trim hearing in Sept., we have to fight to hold the line on what was passed today so it is not lowered in the Fall, which is still the Commissioners' prerogative.
- Coalition to Save our Libraries
The Coalition continues to work toward the September final vote. At the hearing yesterday, there were several questionable or misleading statements that need correcting in the public record. The call for $64 million in stable funding came from a legitimate group of library stakeholders, and the desire, interest, and willingness in the community to pay some additional taxes to support the library was affirmed by the Knight Foundation-funded poll last week.
News and opinion coverage will be extensive over the next couple of days. Facebook and Twitter delivered minute by minute commentary on the fight, with photos. Here’s the best 10 tweets that we rounded up last night. For more detail take a look at @juancuba, @CALMmiami, and the #restore64 and #SaveOurLibrary hashtags.
@CALMmiami Motion to raise millage to ~.248 to maintain service, no layoffs, passes.
@juancuba Adam: "Mayor Gimenez suggests the age of the library has ended. I disagree. A new library age is just beginning"
@PatriciaMazzei Gimenez: "No services are being cut in the libraries." Edmonson: "If we're going to send people from full time to part time that is cutting"
@doug_hanks Throng of blue-shirted, pro-library MDC students appear to overwhelm County Hall escalator. It halted.
Look for a follow up on this soon from the EveryLibrary Board. Until then, happy trails