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Miami’s Budget Crunch May End “Untouchable” Agencies

September 21, 2009

Miami

Everything is on the table in Miami’s search for a solution to their budget problems, including agencies which were once considered “untouchable”.

In the face of a $118 million budget gap, Mayor Manny Diaz’s plan has targeted three programs — typically considered safe — for elimination: Miami’s NET offices, film office and the nonprofit group which runs Virginia Beach Park. Additionally, the mayor has recommended deep cuts in police, parks and other municipal services.

The Miami Herald reports:

The political and practical difficulty of the choices couldn’t be plainer than in the case of the Virginia Key Beach Trust, backed by much of the city and county’s black leadership, or the proposed elimination of the NET offices, popular in many areas where a trip to City Hall is nearly inconceivable.

Among agencies facing a total shutdown, the loss of NET offices would be likely the most widely felt by city residents. Eliminating the agency would save $4.5 million and cost 49 city employees their jobs, including some members of the city’s much-praised homeless outreach teams, which are managed and partly funded by NET.

The 13 NET offices, created in the 1990s at a time when City Hall came under intense public criticism for neglecting its neighborhoods, function as one-stop shopping for residents seeking municipal services, permits for tree cutting or block parties, or help with complaints ranging from potholes to noise and trash dumping.

NET officers also function as troubleshooters, monitoring neighborhood conditions and coordinating deployment of crews that clear illegal dumps, said NET administrator David Rosemond.

Miami could cut once-untouchable agencies [Miami Herald]

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