Florida's Miami-Dade County Commission is considering up to 700 layoffs as part of a plan to plug a $64 million budget deficit after politicians last month announced new stadium deals for the Dolphins' Sun Life Stadium and the Heat's AmericanAirlines Arena.
The layoffs could include more than 300 police and a fifth of the library staff.
The city is still dealing with lagging property tax revenues and real-estate equities in the wake of the housing recession.
“It’s just a horrendous misallocation of resources,” said Xavier Suarez, a county commissioner who voted against the measures. “Instead of focusing the attention on the library, we’ve focused on getting money for sports franchises.”
The current deal for the AmericanAirlines Arena dictates that Miami-Dade pays the Heat $6.4 million annually in subsidies. Under the terms of the agreement announced last month, that sum will rise to $8.5 million for five subsequent years.
For Sun Life Stadium's 20-year deal, the Dolphins will receive $4 million in a Super Bowl-hosting year and $3 million for hosting the college football championship. The money to fund both stadium deals will come from hotel taxes.
Mayor Carlos Gimenez opposed subsidies for the Miami Marlins' new stadium, Marlins Park, and has spoken out against raising taxes. Gimenez instead is pushing for concessions from public employees during negotiations with unions.
After greenlighting new stadium deals last month, Gimenez has begun making plans for a Major League Soccer stadium in Miami.
“He takes pride in personally negotiating these deals,” John Rivera, head of the county’s police union, said of Gimenez. “He doesn’t have the same interest in giving to working people what he’s willing to give to billionaires.”
- Chris Johnson