Miami-Dade Library’s Budget – Holding the Line

Last spring, EveryLibrary and Urban Librarians Unite were invited to help convene a new Coalition for Miami-Dade County Libraries.

Last spring, EveryLibrary and Urban Librarians Unite were invited to help convene a new Coalition for Miami-Dade County Libraries.

The Coalition was broad-based and came together to fight proposed cuts to the FY 14-15 budget by the Mayor.  The proposed cuts included about $22 million on a $44 million base budget.  Those proposed cuts followed a very contentious budget battle in late 2013 when a grassroots group , who we supported through independent issue ads, advocated actively to stop a catastrophe. The 2014 work we did with the Coalition helped re-set the dialog in the community and bring a new awareness of the neighborhood by neighborhood impact that MDCPL branches, staff, collections, programs, and services have on quality of life, education, workforce readiness, and community identity among the County Commission. The Coalition's work not only held the line on a $44 million base budget but succeeded in adding $8 million in new funding to the library last year.

We're very happy to learn this week that the Mayor's  proposed FY15-16 budget is using that $52 million budget as the base for next year.  It's only through ongoing work by the Coalition, other stakeholders, and the community that this is possible.  In the Mayor's budget address, he lays it out for us:

As my administration developed the budget this year, we were pleased to learn that our property tax roll performance was beyond our estimates. For most of our residents, this means that your investments in your home, business, or other properties have appreciated in value and you are better off than you were just a few months ago. This also means the restoration and enhancement of services that were affected during challenging budgetary times, investment in new technologies to improve service delivery, and strengthening our organization so that we may continue to provide critical services for residents as we move into the future.


By the end of the year, we will have enhanced marine service for Miami-Dade Fire Rescue. Programming for children and capital funding in our parks will be expanded, and libraries will be open more days and with a larger budget for the purchasing of materials

We have also heard that library staff plans to put that new revenue to work in a few specific ways including hiring new full- and part-time librarian positions, increasing hours to 6 days a week for 10 branches, pumping up the collection and materials budget by $1 million, and doing a bunch of needed facilities upgrades.  There is a hope to set up a 'matching fund' for grants, too.  This is a classic way to leverage tax revenue to increase private-funder and foundation revenue, and we're glad to see it's on the agenda.

EveryLibrary works with library communities when they need to talk about taxes for the library.  The majority of our work is Elections, and we are proud of our win record. As we're growing as an organization, it is fantastic to bring our same competencies about voter engagement to towns/cities/counties when they are negotiating with commissions, councils, and boards for new revenue.  It is only through the support of our donors that this is possible.  We have to get to September for the final Miami-Dade vote. But we're there to help the Coalition in their work telling the story about how libraries build communities and librarians change lives.