Thursday, June 12, 2008

More of the same - Cities cutting on expenses

And this is the second article I read in the Sun Sentinel today. It is evident that cities can find they way to keep and improve their services while reducing their budget. We just have to ask for it.

Facing budget gaps, Hollywood and Hallandale Beach consider joint services

By Ihosvani Rodriguez South Florida Sun-Sentinel June 12, 2008

HALLANDALE BEACH - The idea of having a Hollywood sanitation worker picking up trash in Hallandale Beach is not far-fetched considering the dramatic budget crisis the two cities are facing, officials from both cities agreed Wednesday.

The Hollywood and Hallandale Beach officials reached out to each other as neighbors-in-need during an unusual joint meeting to discuss common woes and the bleak financial future caused by tax reforms and a struggling South Florida housing market.

"We have some very tough times ahead, and we need to put our heads together to come up with resources we could each bring to the table," said Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper.

The officials weighed the prospect of sharing non-contract employees, holding joint celebrations of such holidays as the Fourth of July and creating a "mini-transit system" between Aventura and Hollywood.

Other topics included the region's water supply, disposal of wastewater and taxes.

Nothing was decided during the meeting at the Hallandale Beach Community Center, but the two commissions voted to support exploring a long list of ideas.

High on everyone's list was how to maintain city services despite dramatic budget cuts next fiscal year.

Hollywood City Manager Cameron Benson said earlier this month that there might be major layoffs in Hollywood because of a potential $14 million deficit.

Hallandale Beach City Manager Mike Good said his city is facing a $6 million shortfall.

Good has proposed having Hollywood employees provide some of the services Hallandale Beach outsources, such as engineering, planning and building inspections.

Another widely accepted idea was applying together for state and federal grants to start a transit system between Aventura and Hollywood in the hopes of bringing more visitors to the area and alleviating traffic congestion. Good envisions four or five trolleys ferrying passengers among Aventura Mall, Hallandale Beach's casinos and Hollywood's Young Circle.

"If we don't take action on this, we are going to get to a point where both cities are going to hit gridlock," Good said.


Henry B. Nathan is a Florida Realtor at United Realty Group Inc.
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