State of the City 2018

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

State of the City 2018:

Mayor says it's strong and getting stronger but notes challenges

This week, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber presented his State of the City in a short video saying “The state of our city is strong and getting stronger. By nearly every metric we are doing well and more importantly, we are headed in the right direction. That said, we do have challenges.”
 
He noted the City’s low millage rate, low debt, strong credit rating, healthy reserves despite the impact of Hurricane Irma, and a rebound in tourism.
 
“According to County forecasts, we will receive 4% more in property taxes this year,” Gelber said. “Now that was a little less than expected mostly due to a slowdown in new construction which to many was very welcomed. Home values, however, continued to increase as they have historically but we will have to watch our spending to make sure our revenues and expenses align.”
 
He pointed to a 13% reduction in the crime rate in Miami Beach since last year but added, “[T]he truth is people still need to feel safer.” Gelber outlined the steps that have been taken over the past year to increase safety including 45 new police officers sworn in, a new program to station police officers in the City’s schools, an increase in the Park Ranger program and “an ambitious lighting program to brighten dark areas that often breed bad behavior.”
 
“We are also reviewing where we deploy police to make sure we’re not ignoring the needs of neighborhood communities,” he said. “We have dramatically increased our successful license plate reader programs for our causeways and elsewhere and resident groups especially Miami Beach Crime Prevention and Awareness have been incredibly vigilant and effective.” 
 
Gelber also provided an update on the City’s efforts to combat flooding including reports from Harvard and the Urban Land Institute to review the efforts to date. “They found our street raising program was on the right track and suggested improvements to our approach. Our Commission is in the process of retooling our efforts with the benefit of this new information so stay tuned.”
 
He then turned to transportation “which is not an easy issue… though we only have 90,000 residents, we have twelve million visitors every year. For decades very little has been done to address congestion in our City streets.” By increasing the number of trolleys and routes, Gelber said more than 400,000 people now travel by trolley every month. “These are people who would otherwise be in cars and we are also exploring with our County and state partners a rapid bus transit line from the County to help bring thousands of our hotel and hospital workers here so we can get more cars out of our rush hour traffic.”
 
Beyond those key priorities, he said the City would also work to improve education. “We just can’t leave the responsibility of public education solely to our state legislature because they will only underfund our schools and over test our students so our City will be seeking to deliver substantial enrichment throughout the school feeder program.” 
 
“Also, as we are a barrier island, we must do more to prevent plastic bags and straws from polluting our beaches and canals and clogging our stormwater pumps which is why we adopted new ordinances to do just that. We’ll also be promoting plastic free initiatives at our businesses and our restaurants,” Gelber said.
 
He also spoke of the City’s future as “a true art and culture destination. We have made amazing strides but more must be done. Cultural tourism needs to be our future. It attracts great visitors and also provides elements enjoyable to our residents.”
 
“The truth is our city has changed since I was a kid growing up here and even over the last two decades,” Gelber said. “We are a slightly younger city, a city that loves parks and cultural activities and a city that needs to be more walkable with inviting town centers, a community that embraces its diversity but doesn’t want plastic cluttering its beaches. This is who we are.”
 
To view the full six-minute video, click here.

 
 
 
 

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Susan Askew
Susan Askew
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Susan Askew
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Susan Askew
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Susan Askew
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Susan Askew
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Susan Askew
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Susan Askew
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