After $13 million in cuts last year, Mayor Carlos Hernandez targets doing more with less in Hialeah, ruling out tax hikes
With less than a year in office under his belt, Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez plans to bring the City of Progress one step closer to financial stability.
Before taking over for former mayor Julio Robaina, who stepped down to run for county mayor in May 2011, Mr. Hernandez served on the Hialeah City Council since 2005. He served as vice president in 2007 and council president in 2009.
In his first term as mayor, Mr. Hernandez said, he plans to maintain residential services without placing the burden on the backs of taxpayers.
"[The] first thing that is important is to continue finding ways to make the government more efficient, to do more with less," he said, "because under no circumstances can [we] raise taxes on the citizens in these difficult times."
Despite tough financial times and a difficult budget year, Mr. Hernandez said he plans to accomplish his goal by making widespread cuts across city offices. Last year the city made $13 million in cuts, with the mayor's own salary decreasing 30%.
"A lot has been a sacrifice by the employees taking pay cuts, starting from the mayor," he said, later adding, "At the City of Hialeah we're a family, and this government is a family. It's better if we cut across the board and save jobs. That's a philosophy that I push day in and day out. You start from the top."
Despite recent county restructuring and talks of redistricting, Mr. Hernandez, who served on the Hialeah police force 22 years, said public safety and security will remain a top priority throughout his first term. Crime in Hialeah has dropped 18% in the past three years and 7% since January 2011 — a trend Mr. Hernandez contributes to the city's "proactive crime units."
"Even though we have [fewer] officers than we had in the past," he said, "we've have more officers on the streets… When we get information of a crime happening in an area we're not waiting to react. We go out and find solutions."
Mr. Hernandez discussed how he plans to bring business to the city, how he plans to increase area filming and how he intends to secure funding for senior citizen programs with Miami Today staff writer Ashley Hopkins at his Hialeah office.
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