Miami, Florida

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Miami is a major city located on the Atlantic coast in southeastern Florida and the county seat of Miami-Dade County, the most populous county in Florida and the ninth-most populous county in the United States with a population of 2,496,435.[1] The 42nd largest city in the United States, with a population of 433,136, it is the principal, central, and most populous city of the South Florida metropolitan area, the most populous metropolis in the Southeastern United States.[2] According to the US Census Bureau, Miami's metro area is the seventh most populous in the United States, with an estimated population of 5,547,051 in 2009.[3]

Miami is a major center and a leader in finance, commerce, culture, media, entertainment, the arts, and international trade.[4] In 2010, Miami ranked seventh in the United States in terms of finance, commerce, culture, entertainment, fashion, education, and other sectors. It ranked thirty-third among global cities.[5]

In 2008, Miami was ranked as "America's Cleanest City" according to Forbes Magazine for its year-round good air quality, vast green spaces, clean drinking water, clean streets and city-wide recycling programs.[6] In 2009, UBS study of 73 world cities, Miami was ranked as the richest city in the United States and the world's fifth-richest city, in terms of purchasing power.[7]

Downtown Miami and South Florida are home to the largest concentration of international banks in the United States, and is home to many large companies both nationally and internationally.[8][9]

For more than two decades, the Port of Miami, known as the "Cruise Capital of the World" has been the number one cruise passenger port in the world, accommodating some of the world's largest cruise ships and operations, and is currently the busiest in both passenger traffic and cruise lines.[10][11]

Elected Officials

The government of the City of Miami uses the mayor-city commissioner system. The city commission consists of five commissioners, are elected from single member districts. The city commission constitutes the governing body with powers to pass ordinances adopt regulations and exercise all powers conferred upon the city in the city charter. The mayor is elected at large and appoints a city manager.

Mayor

The City of Miami is governed by Mayor Tomás Regalado.[12]

Commissioners

Five City commissioners[13] oversee the five districts in the City. It holds regular meetings in the City Hall of Miami located in 3500 Pan American Drive Miami, Florida 33133 in the neighborhood of Coconut Grove County on Dinner Key.

The Mayor's website lists key initiatives:[14] Preservation Miami, Bike Initiatives, Recovery Miami, Elevate Miami, Green Miami, ACCESS Miami

Current commissioners, as of June 2011:[15]

Member Title District
Wifredo Gort Chairman District 1
Marc Sarnoff Commissioner District 2
Frank Carollo Vice-Chairman District 3
Francis Suarez Commissioner District 4
Richard P. Dunn Commissioner District 5

Budget

In 2011, the city has faced a $100 million budget shortfall and a 13.5 percent unemployment rate. As a result the city council has adopted emergency powers to slash the wages and benefits of public workers, which account for 90 percent of city expenses. As a result of this action, the Miami Police Union has since filed suit. City officials maintain that current public employee pensions are too expensive with the average worker collecting a lump sum of $832,000 in retirement total, and up to $92,000 annually.[16]

Miami will face a $20 million budget deficit in fiscal year 2012. In order to fill the current deficit, the city tapped into $141 million in reserves, which dwindled to nothing in March. To raise the required amount, the city also resorted to service hikes for vehicles, monthly fees to use public pools and imposing additional fees. Projections were off by millions, forcing Miami to recalculate.[17]

The $20 million deficit could rise to as much as $40 million if mid-June estimates are correct, potentially forcing officials to shave 10 percent off department budgets. “If I were an employee of the city of Miami, I’d be concerned too — ‘Am I going to have to take another pay cut?’ ” asked Commissioner Frank Carollo. Last year, cuts to city employees' salaries amounted to approximately 20 percent of their annual pay.[18]

Public employee salaries

Main article: Miami employee salaries

County Manager George Burgess earns a compensation package which totals at 425,000 annually, and comes with a 2010 Infiniti M35 car. Additionally, it's been reported that near 100 public employees are earning more than $200,000 per year, costing the city $23 million annually. There is an additional 1,751 public employees, almost half of the public workforce, who earn six-figure paychecks.[19]

Lobbying

Main articles: Florida government sector lobbying and Florida League of Cities

Miami has reported $1.5 million spent on lobbying since 2000 (see table).

Reported lobbying expenditures, 2000-2010 [20]
Year Amount spent on lobbying
2010 $130,000
2009 $240,000
2008 $200,000
2007 $160,000
2006 $100,000
2005 $130,000
2004 $180,000
2003 $40,000
2002 $120,000
2001 $120,000
2000 $80,000

Miami pays membership dues[21] to the Florida League of Cities, a government sector lobbying association. Miami also pays for services of the lobbying firm Alcade & Fay. [22]

Website evaluation

In 2011 Miami earned a Sunny Awards for having a perfect website transparency score.

This website was most recently reviewed an unknown date.

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Budget
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Meetings
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Elected Officials
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Administrative Officials
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Permits, zoning
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Contracts
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Lobbying N
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Public Records
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Transparency grading process

The good

  • Budget
    • The most current budget is listed.
    • Budgets are archived for 10 years.[23]
  • Administrative Officials
    • Department heads are listed for each department.[24]
    • Contact information for administrative officials is provided including a mailing address, phone number, and personalized email.
  • Elected Officials
    • Elected officials are listed with a mailing address, phone number and personalized email.[25]
  • Meetings
    • Meeting minutes are archived for 4 years.
    • Meeting agendas are archived for 4 years.
    • A meeting calendar is available and names the times and locations of public meetings.
    • Meeting videos are available.[26]
  • Audits
    • The most recent audit is posted.
    • Audits dating back to 2003 are available.[27]
  • Contracts
    • Bids and RFPs are posted online.
    • Approved contract statements are provided for vendors.[28]
  • Public Records
    • The public information officer is identified and maintained by the City Clerk. This person provides a mailing address, phone number and personalized email.[29]
    • A fee schedule for documents is provided.
  • Taxes
    • Tax revenues are broken down by federal, state, and local funding in the budget.
    • Local taxes, like property taxes, are available online.[30]
    • Residents are able to pay taxes online.
  • Permits and zoning
    • Zoning ordinances are posted online.[31]
    • Permit applications can be downloaded on the site, along with information on how to apply for the permits.[32]

The bad

  • Lobbying
    • If the city engaged in lobbying actives or if it's a member of government lobbying associations are not disclosed. Nor is the total cost lobbying activities or membership dues for associations available.

External links

References