By: Doral Community Coalition
The initial discussion was concentrated on the priorities that need funding, in the midst of very uncertain times, with many unknowns.
The city has in essence a major advantage and a disadvantage. The positive is that after a period of major disruption in the previous administration, common sense, tight management, and cost consciousness came back to the administration. No more beauty contest and grants to friends and family. The negative is that being smaller than the big urban areas the Federal Government and the State Government sometimes ignore us.
The use of reserves was very tightly controlled by the Major and the Council always being clear that reserves are not to be used for current expenses but are the insurance policy against the unexpected. That has proven to be a wise approach under the current circumstances.
We should be proud that even one of the council members, returned to the city most of her travel budget showing that austerity has to start at the top.
The city approved a plan for improvements and expansion of parks in the next few years, which is critical to the quality of life of our citizens. The plan is self funded through the bonds and its pacing will be subject to the new circumstances.
The major investments and new expenses will be concentrated on safety and public works. With the population growth there is need for more law enforcement personnel as well as keeping state of the art technology in the police department and in surveillance equipment.
The proposed 2020/21 budget will continue tight control on expenses and focus on the most important matters to the city. Safety and Security, through the Police department takes over 42% of the City’s budget. Police labor costs, including benefits, represent 55% of that line budget total. Both residents and businesses will agree it is the right place to put our taxes to work for us.
The city has over $65MM in reserves, which prepares it to face many difficulties of the time.
It is critical to keep expenses flat, or lower, in most of the other departments taking a cautionary approach considering the added activities that will become the new normal. The city has maintained a good pace of construction and development in the last four years, with the new council members being very conscious about it and not repeating the errors of the past.
This has been done with total adherence to the property rights of the owners. A win-win situation for the City as a whole.
Many actions have been taken to improve traffic, including the opening of new roads, expanding access roads, added trolley routes, and other options for local transportation.
This council has been extremely active in defending the city rights with the County and other authorities. Now it has the much needed representation in the transportation board. The Mayor is a leader in the Miami Dade League of Cities organization, where councilwoman Claudia Mariaca is also a board member. His leadership has been critical to place our city on the map. As we said before, sometimes Federal and State Governments ignore us. We need respected and well recognized leadership to represent us.
An issue in Doral is the landfill, in the City of Medley, and the waste processing plant. The Council, under the current leadership, has taken very proactive actions, within their legal rights to mitigate the concerns they cause.
They have focused on the matter and created a specialized working group to address the issue.
-They have established water and air quality tests
-Doral was the only city to legally oppose the expansion of the Waste Management landfill
-Ongoing air quality testing has been approved and funded
-The city has negotiated many concessions to mitigate the odor problem with WM such as:
- Purchase of an additional 5,000 square feet per minute landfill gas flare to expand and maintain the gas collection and handling system on site
- Installation of 10-12 additional landfill gas collection wells and an additional 10,000 feet of gas collection piping to further ensure complete gas collection, transmission and destruction.
- Installation of a new steam-based odor control system targeting the southwest corner of the landfill across from Doral
- Expansion of the existing mobile odor neutralization system to include two work face mist cannons to neutralize any potential odors
This has been an administration that has really taken care of the needs of the city.
The multiple advisory boards are active with a broad representation for the citizens. The Citizens Police Academy, the Mayor’s Citizen Academy, and other programs are ways for all to be active in the government process and be engaged. These are programs that are a model to be followed. We encourage all to participate.
We are now entering the final path to the elections. Doral is clearly a well run city with a solid financial condition and potential. It makes the city a “treasure” to be desired by outside interest, and we must be vigilant of our city’s future and the hands it lands on.
We all have a clear responsibility in deciding where the future of Doral goes. Our participation should not be reduced to a vote every two years. We should be involved constantly and observe the actions of the elected officials and the progress they make on the important matters that concern us.
The Doral Community Coalition is part of that process. We are an organization that pursues good governance as part of a process to sustain growth in a controlled way to keep our city at the top of the leading cities in the United States. We are proud of what has been done but will continue to be vigilant and protect our city from those who have other agendas.
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