Miami budget gives Liberty City group a $296,000 boost

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Miami City Hall.

A longtime Liberty City community group is expected to get about $300,000 in new funding after Miami commissioners gave initial approval to a $1.5 billion spending plan on Saturday.

The hike, along with increased spending on police and fire services, marked a budget proposal fueled by growing property tax revenues. Commissioners spent little time debating spending priorities on Saturday — the first time in recent memory that the city has held a weekend budget hearing. Officials said they wanted to give the public a better chance to have their say on the budget.

A few dozen people showed up, which is more than a typical budget hearing.

Several speakers made the case for the Liberty City Trust. Others told the commissioners they thought the city should give more money to the annual Gay8 festival in Little Havana, an issue the commissioners said should be resolved before the next budget vote on Sept. 22.

Commissioners agreed to increase the Liberty City Community Revitalization Trust’s budget by $296,000, bringing the organization’s budget to $495,000 to expand youth jobs and empowerment programs. The Trust helps people rehabilitate their homes and promote business growth, among other community programs.

TL Coverson, chairman of the Trust’s board of directors, told the Miami Herald that the organization can now hire more staff to focus on youth programs, including summer jobs and mentorship programs, who were priorities for Liberty City residents who spoke at Saturday’s budget hearing at City Hall.

“This will allow us to engage our youth in the community,” Coverson said. “We can give them advice.”

READ MORE: Miami sets historic low property tax rate. What does this mean to you?

The budget also called for a reorganization of city staff tasked with preparing for the impacts of climate change. In a reversal of a controversial 2020 decision, City Manager Art Noriega’s administration plans to separate the Department of Resilience and Sustainability from the Department of Public Works.

Six city employees will leave the public works department and operate as a stand-alone team, an adjustment hailed by climate activists who say it sends a clearer signal that the Miami government wants to take climate change more seriously.

On Saturday, the attorneys asked the commissioners to direct about $150,000 to the reinstated department for two more positions. Commissioners said they would consider making changes before the second vote.

The spending plan includes a $33.6 million increase in police and firefighter retirement programs, most of which relates to a 2018 legal settlement with unions.

Joey Flechas covers government and public affairs for the City of Miami for the Herald, from votes at City Hall to neighborhood news. He won a Sunshine State Award for exposing a Miami Beach political candidate’s ties to an illegal campaign donation. He graduated from the University of Florida.

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