By: María Alejandra Pulgar
NAHJ #37172 / SPJ #10009939
DORAL, FL – The resolution to adopt the budget for Fiscal year 2019-2020 for the City of Doral passed on second hearing on September 24th.
The budget preparation cycle started in March with the Strategic Planning sessions that lead to the definition of key strategies that will lead the vision of the City for next year; the final product of this process is a balanced budget of $80,538,740 that will cover expenses for all funds needed to operate the City including among others the General Fund ($62,487,336, or 77.6% of the total); Transportation; Parks; Police; Building Technology and starting this year the General Obligation Bond-Series 2019 Fund that includes the monies raised from the first issue of the Doral Parks Bonds approved in November.
The Millage rate for this year stayed at 1.9000, the second-lowest in Miami-Dade County and the same millage rate used in Doral for the past five years.
For the first time as City Manager, Albert Childress presented the Council with the document that summarizes the achievements from each department for the past Fiscal Year, along with the priorities and projects that passed the cut of the several reviews, public budget workshops with the Council and public hearings.
Strategic Goals and Detailed Actions for Fiscal Year 2019-2020
In words of City Manager Al Childress, this budget was developed with the purpose of continue delivering “the quality services our residents expect.”
Some of the actions and projects that will be executed starting the fiscal year 2019-2020 on October 1st include:
- Increase on personnel expenditures as the City will adopt a 40-hour workweek schedule for non-sworn employees. This is to provide better levels of service for residents and business owners.
- Development of full programming at Doral Glades Park
- Enhance police visibility and provide community policing through hiring fifteen additional officers, four Sergeants, two Public Service Agents, and two Park Rangers. Included the addition of allocation for more personnel in preparation for the G7 Summit next year.
- Upgrade and acquisition of new police vehicles and upgrade on the fleet.
- Hire of Constituent Services Coordinator to strengthen communication with the community. This is a new position within the Public Affairs department
- Transfer of the Economic Development Division to the Planning and Zoning Department.
- Improvements at Doral Legacy Park
- Hiring personnel for in house fleet maintenance of City Vehicles
- Continue and expand roadway construction, resurfacing and beautification projects, canal stabilization, and maintenance and Stormwater improvements
- Continue incorporation of safety and security technologies on trolleys
- Online permitting system for Building Department
- Provide data analytics platform to continue improving understanding of citizen’s needs and opinions
- Continue mailing newsletter to all residents’ homes. It has an estimated cost of $56,000 per year.
- Expand advertising and strategic partnerships to attract local, regional and new markets. It includes the attendance to meetings and other events that increase visibility for the city. To serve those purposes, for example, the summary of the allocations for Travel and Living, promotional materials and dues and memberships, only for the Mayor and Council amount to $118,600.
- Improve technology devices for departments to improve efficiency on serving residents.
- Implement smart system solutions to enhance transparency on operations
- Invest on training programs to improve customer services
The budget document has plenty of details to back up the allocation of funds for all line items, tying them up with the strategies that led the process. Funding these actions will fulfill the strategic priorities of safety, opportunity, mobility, play, information and control, financial planning and efficient and effective government set for this fiscal year.
Projects funded with Bonds Series 2019
On 2019 there was the first issue of the bonds approved to finance Parks and Recreation Projects and pay costs and expenses related to the issuance of the bonds.
The council passed a resolution to hire a Capital Improvement Project (CIP) Manager who will oversee the execution of the projects funded with the proceeds from the bonds. Over the span of three years, the projects to be executed with the first issuance funds are:
- Improvements and renovations Doral Meadow Park and Morgan Levy Park
- Construction Cultural Arts Facility, White Course Park and pedestrian bridge
- Lighting and construction of trails
- Environmental testing, design and first phase construction Doral Central Park. The total cost of this project is expected to be $120 million, therefore, the remaining costs associated will be covered with a subsequent series of the bonds.
The importance of residents’ participation
Public comment opportunities were available in the agendas on all meetings and documents have been available in advance for residents to review. Questions, comments or concerns are welcome and encouraged. The opportunities are there, as well as the chance to meet with councilmembers and staff over the budgeting process.
Only one resident took the chance to address the council during the second hearing with comments on several items included in the budget. Residents need to understand the importance of participation in the different opportunities given by elected officials and the City Administration to timely voice their opinions about their needs. The monies that fund the City’s projects belong to the citizenry, and elected officials and city staff are there to guard the funds, choose wisely and spend carefully on projects that fulfill the needs of all Doral residents and business owners.
It is commendable the hard work that City staff put on developing a lean, clean budget and on preparing a detailed, understandable document that is available for the public. Residents interested in reviewing it in detail can find it on the City’s website.