“Continuing the Progress”
By: Diana Bello Aristizábal
Once again as it happens at the end of each year, Doral Mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez delivered the State of the City address for 2019 on November 21st under the title: “Continuing the Progress” to highlight the achievements of his administration this year.
“We are keeping our commitment to move forward,” said the Mayor during his intervention in the Council Chamber at City Hall in front of a full house audience. As a result of a team effort that includes all City of Doral departments and employees, these are the main accomplishments achieved this year:
Finances and Budget
Part of this year’s plan has been to continue focusing on fiscal responsibility through the Finances Department that in Mayor Bermudez’s words has “done a fantastic job,” making sure the City remains structurally balanced and putting taxpayers dollars to work without cutting services.
“We are probably better off financially than we have ever been, and we have actually done this by keeping a millage rate that is the second-lowest in Miami-Dade county at 1.9 mills”.
Also, the finances department received the GFOA Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for the FY 2018-2019 Budget, and the City has obtained an AA+ rating on its long-term issuer credit and the City’s 2019 general obligation (GO) bonds issued by S&P Global Rating & Fitch Ratings, which is the second-highest rating.
In an exclusive interview after delivering the address, the Mayor commented on this matter, highlighting the positive impact the issuance of bonds that voters agreed on will have in the City’s economy.
“National studies have taught us that park system where each resident has access to 10 minutes, which is the goal we have here, increases the value of people’s properties by a minimum of 20 percent,” stated Mayor Bermudez.
Other accomplishments and projects mentioned are: a 5-year financial plan to assist the administration in managing the City’s future growth, a reviewed and updated City’s Investment Policy, and streamlined internal financial services for contracts management, insurance tracking, and check and cash depositing.
“This department makes sure we keep hiring the right type of people,” stated the Mayor when referring to this department. Among the events that happened this year, one of them was the promotion of Albert P. Childress from Deputy City Manager to City Manager, as well as of the Public Works Director. In the same line, 86 full-time and part-time employees were hired.
On the other hand, the City of Doral received an Awarded Honor for the 2019 Healthiest Employers in South Florida for Medium Company by South Florida Business Journal, while the wellness offerings and education on benefit plan offerings helped reduce the Medical Loss Radio by 18.6%.
Technology and Communications
City of Doral has been working hard towards increasing its efficiency in all fronts, especially the technological one, even more after being recognized as a smart city. “We continue to grow in our smart city initiatives to provide people and business first services and solutions that span the whole city.”
Some of these initiatives include centralized surveillance camera storage for 300+ security cameras for all city facilities at the main data center (NAP), a system for records retention and management on the file servers, and the implementation of automatic vehicle location for PD vehicles.
In addition to this, the City revamped the 311 System to increase user-friendly function and is currently working in the Development Services Software project that would allow users to apply for, pay for, and schedule inspections online.
Regarding communications, some of this year’s advances include a performance dashboard that gives residents and City of Doral the opportunity to measure where the City is at bringing transparency, as well as the hiring of a constituent services coordinator that essentially has the role to pass on accurate information to residents.
Public Safety and Code enforcement
Apart from having more tools to access information, enhance the human resources and manage our finances better, the City also improved this year in safety management. First, the City of Doral Divisional Emergency Operations Center (EOC) was opened to help prepare residents in a more efficient way for weather-related events.
Also, the City has been increasing police visibility within school zones with the deployment of school resource officers at 12 schools in Doral and enforcing the law vigorously. According to Bermudez, “people are following the rules,” and traffic citations haven’t stopped as 36,362 traffic violations citations were issued during the Fiscal year 2018-2019.
Other projects of the Public Safety department include the creation of a body-worn camera management unit, the addition of one police officer to the Motors and Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Squad, the continuing community policing programs (2 Citizens Police Academies and 3 Youth Citizens Police Academies) and active shooter training and presentations.
The Code Enforcement Department also had its share of accomplishments. The department extended the hours of operation for field personnel to 8 pm, exceeded 24-hour response time goal, and has initiated over 100 short-term rental and multi-family cases resulting in the issuance of over 75 citations.
Doral Family Journal asked the Mayor in an interview what is his administration doing regarding security inside condominiums, as many cases of car theft have been reported lately, and he stated that his office delivers documents at each condominium or association about how to work alongside the Police to resolve these problems.
Sense of Community
During the interview with Mayor Bermudez, we spoke with him about how he sees the sense of community inside the council as externally many programs have successfully strengthen that area this year such as Adopt-A-Street, Keep Doral Beautiful Award, Mayor’s Citizens Government Academy, Mayor on the Move, We Don’t Do that Here or Put it Down.
“This year, in particular, the council has been firmly united,” said the Mayor who took the occasion to remind residents that Doral belongs to all of us, not only elected officials. “We can all be part of the solution, and that is one of the things we will work on next year,” said Bermudez.
This path is already in progress as this year, Doral was named an All-America City Finalist among 19 other municipalities at the Conference of the National Civic League in Denver. When asked about the secret to getting this recognition, the Mayor explained it was “because we are seen as a united city with a good quality of life.”
– Freebee Pilot Program in Downtown Doral
– Doral Transit Study
– Citywide Parking Study
– Ordinance to install Speed Bumps and Speed Humps
– Roadway improvements along NW 112th Avenue between NW 25th Street and NW 34th Street.
– Stormwater Vulnerability Study
– Outfall Feasibility Study
– Canal Bank Stabilization Program
– Doral Trolley Infrastructure improvements
– Doral Boulevard Median and Landscape Improvements Project
– Odor Control Efforts
– Opening of Doral Glades Park.
– Brownfield Redevelopment Program
– Floodplain Management
– Expanding Programs such as Doral Step Up and Light Your Bike Night