Miami is a weekly feature of Miami Today, keeping readers ahead
of the news. Here are highlights from the most current edition.
DEFICIT STEPS: City of Miami commissioners approved last week plans to cut expenditures by 3% and increase fire fees to make up for a projected $7.5 million deficit in its next fiscal year if the city can't keep its two-year-old parking surcharges. The Florida Third Court of Appeal last month ruled the $13 million the city collects annually in parking surcharges was unconstitutional. The city, which has appealed the matter to the Florida Supreme Court, continues collecting the tax. Without the parking surcharge, the city budget would not only be $7.5 million short in the next fiscal year, it would be $23 million short by 2006.
TRIM RESULTS: Commissioners agreed to increase the fire tax from $61 to $70. The fire department budget gets $24 for equipment. The balance helps cover the city's operating budget. The increase in the tax would generate an extra $2.1 million. Meanwhile, the 3% budget cut would eliminate 120 positions and result in some reduction in services. The city property tax rate would remain 8.995 per $1,000 of assessed value. If the parking tax were reinstated residents would get the $9 back.
VOICE OF DISSENT: Commissioner Tomás Regalado caste the only dissenting vote to the measures, which were passed about midnight in an empty city hall chamber. Although he got no support from commissioners, Miami Mayor Joe Carollo proposed reducing reserve funds from $5.6 million to $3.6 million instead of raising the fire fee. Public hearings on the changes are scheduled.
CITY LOANS: City of Miami administrators said last week residents owe the city about $6.4 million. A recent created task force recouped about $3.7 million, city officials said. They said the city had not pursued the collection of defaulted loans aggressively until recently. Administrators are also considering hiring an outside firm to resolve workers' compensation claims and help the city reduce the $10 million it has in claims yearly. Commissioner Joe Sanchez said Miami has more open cases than any other city in the county.
LITTLE HAVANA: City of Miami commissioners gave a preliminary OK to the creation of a Little Havana Homeownership Trust to help lead redevelopment efforts and increase the number of homeowners in the area. A public hearing on the issues is scheduled Sept. 13.
SEASON NOTES: As it gears up for its 2001-02 season, the Florida Philharmonic named Edwin Outwater associate guest conductor and Glen Cortese resident conductor and artistic administrator for one year. Mr. Outwater, who had been resident conductor for the orchestra, has accepted an offer to become resident conductor and youth orchestra music director for the San Francisco Symphony starting in September. An official search for a new Florida Philharmonic resident conductor for 2002-03 is planned, publicists for the orchestra said. Igor Gruppman, who was appointed associate conductor for the 2000-01 season, retains his post.
UM CHAIR: The University of Miami named Dr. Carmen A. Puliafito, now director of the New England Eye Center, chairman of the ophthalmology department in its school of medicine. With the appointment, Dr. Puliafito also becomes director of the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute and serves as medical director for the Anne Bates Leach Eye Hospital, Bascom's patient care facility. He was voted one of the nation's top 10 ophthalmologists in a 24-state survey, say UM publicists, and is internationally recognized as an expert in ophthalmic lasers. Dr. Puliafito's resume shows he holds two US patents, has written six books and has penned 120 articles for scientific, academic and medical journals.
NORTHERN ICE: The North Dade Regional Chamber of Commerce is holding a "Miracle on Ice" family night from 5:30-7 p.m. Aug. 15 in Macy's Courtyard at Aventura Mall. The networking event benefits the Miami Children's Hospital Brain Trust Foundation. RSVP. Cost is $6. Details: (305) 690-9123.
NORTHERN EXPO: The North Dade Regional and Aventura chambers of commerce are organizing a multi-chamber business expo from 5-7:30 p.m. Aug. 23 in the FIU Kovens Center, 151st Street at Biscayne Boulevard. The event will feature hor d'oeuvres, buffet and cash bar. Exhibitor tables are $100; $75 for members. Details: Trudi, (305) 690-9123.
BOMA TALK: The Building Owners & Managers Association of Greater Miami-Dade is sponsoring a talk, "Designing a blueprint to improve commuter assistance" at 11:30 a.m. Aug. 8 in the Rusty Pelican Restaurant, 3201 Rickenbacker Cswy. Cost is $30; $25 for members. RSVP. Details: (305) 530-8467.
AVENTURA BREAKFAST: The Aventura Chamber of Commerce is holding a membership breakfast at 8 a.m. Aug. 8 in the Courtyard Marriott, 2825 NE 191st St. Dr. Martin Dayton, medical director of the Dayton Medical Center, and Dr. Helen Donatelli, who specializes in anti-aging cosmetic medicine, are scheduled to speaker under the banner, "The Anti-aging Craze: Reality Vs. Hype." Cost is $5; free for members. Details: (305) 937-0806.
HOT OPENING: Hotjobs, which bills itself as an online recruiting-solutions provider, Tuesday marked its opening in suite 300, 806 Douglas Road, Coral Gables. The office, which has been open about a month, employs 30 staffers. Publicists said the number employed would jump to 60 once full production is reached. South Florida competed with Atlanta and Jacksonville to house the regional office, which totals 5,000 square feet. In an expansion mode, Hotjobs also plans to open an office in Washington, DC.
STADIUM SCORE: Bruce J. Colan, a member of a Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce committee working on landing a baseball stadium for the Florida Marlins downtown, said his group would not be a party in the deal but remains an interested observer. Mr. Colan, a partner with Holland & Knight said the chamber would show its support when the City of Miami, Miami-Dade and Marlins officials reach an agreement and would continue to offer advice if asked. He said he believes the Florida Legislature will address the ruling finding the parking surcharge plan unconstitutional in its next session. Other members of the chamber's three-person committee - which has no immediate plans to meet for a second strategy session, according to Mr. Colon - are Peter W. Roulhac of First Union National Bank and Leslie Pantin of The Pantin Partnership.
M-DCC GRANT: Miami-Dade Community College's Refugee Entrant Vocational Educational Services Training, or REVEST, program got $1 million from the Florida Department of Children & Families' Division of Refugee Services. The grant, which brings total state funding since the program's start in '99 to $13 million, was given to expand services assisting refugees in job and educational training. Publicists said more than 5,000 students from countries such as Cuba, Colombia, Peru, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Ukraine and Congo-Zaire have enrolled in the program.
EVEN NOTE: Florida Philharmonic Orchestra Chairman Robert E. Levinson this week announced the orchestra broke even for the third year in a row. Publicists said the philharmonic now has posted a balanced budget for five of its past six fiscal years. The orchestra, said publicist Terri Schlender, ended its '00-01 fiscal year with $9.8 million in expenses offset by $3.5 million from ticket sales and fees and $6.3 million from contributions, bequests and grants.
VOLUNTEER ROLLS: The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Council of South Dade & the Florida Keys, 6600 SW 57TH Ave., is seek volunteers to act in ombudsmen roles for elderly residents in area nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The post requires 16 hours of training, which are to be offered Oct. 15-19. Details: Debi, (305) 663-2085.
STATE CONVENTIONS CHIEF: William Talbert, president and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, takes over Sept. 6 as chair of the Florida Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus. The statewide group, formed in the late 1990s, has more than 40 member associations, Mr. Talbert said. He will be installed at the Sheraton Sand Key Resort.