Friday, August 1, 2014

School Days and the Budget

On Tuesday night, the Miami-Dade School District presented their improvement plan for Treasure Island Elementary School.  Like all good plans, it is pretty simple to understand and built on a solid foundation of experience and knowledge.  "Simple to understand" does not mean that the plan is simple.  It's not.  It is a lot of work and work that needs doing.  The School District is taking the deterioration of Treasure Island Elementary seriously and it was refreshing to see that the mayor did not again use the meeting about this serious issue for political grandstanding and politics of personal destruction.  

Martin Karp, our school board rep who has taken a strong interest in fixing the problem at TIES and Iraida Mendez Cartaya, Associate Superintendent for the M-D School district were there. while none of the four parents, including Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Grieco,  who were shocked and appalled that NBV residents were worried about the decline of the school, bothered to show up to hear the remedial plan.  But then they only show when summoned and the mayor may not have wanted these antics during the adult time.  

Anyway the plan is here and you should review it.  Action Plan-Treasure Island Elementary School

I have one concern about the plan.  It does not formalize communication channels to the parents and the community.  I wrote to Dr. Karp, our school board member, about this concern and hope that the school administration takes this seriously.  Last year there was no communication at all to the residents funding the IB program and this is a real problem. Even at this meeting, Dr. Krubitch said nothing. 

We need to watch this closely.  

The millage rate stays the same on our budget.  But the tax revenues are set to rise by a cool 13.63% because the properties are appraising higher.  There will be a net reduction for homesteaded properties, which only account for about 15% of total tax revenue, but the other properties, rentals, businesses etc. will find their costs rising by 13.63%.  This follows last years tax rise of 22.6% and means that life for many of us who might be renters, users of North Bay Village businesses and others, the basic cost of being here gets more expensive once again. 

Somehow the commission believes that since the millage rate didn't change, they have cut taxes.  Magical thinking unsupported by math.   In the meantime, the budget does not restore the PAL program, add any rec services at all, nor does it include any money for a dog park or other programs the residents want.  But everyone gets a raise.  

The Village Manager explained that it has gotten more expensive to run the city.  The inflation rate is 3.6%  for the last 2 years so naturally we need to raise taxes ten times that amount (36.2% in 2 years) and cut services just to make ends meet.  I'm sure all of you have experienced a 36.2% increase in your personal income over the last two years so it's no trouble at all.  

As Commissioner Jorge Gonzalez said at the last budget meeting, "if people don't like paying taxes here, they should move."   Words of wisdom, are they not?  

Kevin Vericker
August 1, 2014




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