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Mayor Scales Back Property-Tax Rate Hike After Criticism

MIAMI (CBS4/The Miami Herald) – Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez is backing off a proposed property-tax rate hike for the 2013-2014 budget.

CBS4 news partner, The Miami Herald, spoke to Gimenez late Wednesday night, just a day after what some people called an eye-brow raising increase totaling 5.37 percent.

The mayor said he received resistance to the plan because he was elected on a platform to shrink government.

Gimenez will drop a request to raise a portion of the tax rate to fully fund a plan to stop killing dogs and cats at the county's shelter which added up to a $19 million according to the paper.

Instead, Gimenez said the animal services department would get $4 million from within the budget for implementing a scaled-back version of the no-kill shelter plan.

"I'm hearing the voice of the people, and so I don't think it's good right now to raise the countywide millage," Gimenez told the paper.

The change would limit the mayor's pro-posed tax-rate hike to funding library and fire-rescue services.

Despite scaling things back some, according to the paper, the overall tax rate would still go up with Gimenez' proposal and amount to 4.34 percent.

The overall tax rate would still go up to 4.34 percent or about $81 for homeowners of a home valued at $200,000 under Gimenez's amended proposal.

The paper reports, the animal-welfare plan, which was a straw-ballot question, was approved by nearly 65 percent of Miami-Dade voters last November.

However, Gimenez says several people told him, Wednesday, they would not have favored the measure if it were binding.

Michael Rosenberg, a Kendall businessman and co-founder of Pets Trust Miami, the grassroots group that promoted the ballot question told the paper, "not so."

"I know the community knew exactly what they were voting for," he told the paper after learning of Gimenez's decision from a reporter.

"What is the point of voting anymore?" he added. "The people spoke with a voice that resonated all over the country. We are in shock that the mayor killed the program, and with that, the killing of animals will continue."

Next Tuesday, commissioners will vote to set the maximum tax rate. They must approve a budget after two public hearings in September.

Gimenez told the paper, the alternative to raising the library and fire rates would be eliminating six fire units resulting in layoffs for about 120 firefighters.  Also, 17 branch libraries and 10 storefront libraries would close while the county's bookmobiles would stop.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed material for this report.)

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