The November 2011 General Meeting of the Miami Beach Taxpayers Association was held Wednesday, Nov.2, 2011, at 8:30 a.m. at the Shelborne Hotel, 1801 Collins Avenue.
Mayor Mattie Bower and City Commissioner Deede Weithorn, both victorious in the November 1, 2011 municipal elections, were among those present when President Jared Galbut gavelled the meeting to order.
Mr. Galbut says today’s meeting will discuss two important topics, the need for pension reform for the City of Miami Beach, and means of maintaining the pre-eminence of the Miami Beach Convention Center in South Florida.
Russell Galbut, a member of the operating committee, congratulated the two winners and said how proud we are to be represented by them.
Commissioner Weithorn and Mayor Bower each thanked the voters for their respective reelections.
Ms. Weithorn, the only CPA on the city commission, said her three priority issues in the next term will be the need for pension reform, the role of the Convention Center and the question of the Urban Beach Weekend.
She said Miami Beach has a defined contribution plan which assumes salary growth and an increased investment return. Salary growth, she asserted, is unsustainable. Investment return, as we can see from the stock market fluctuations, is unpredictable.
Further, she noted that the city has three separate pension systems, public safety employees, general employees, and one for non-union workers. Public Safety was largest percentage of the current pension liability to Miami Beach.
Questions were asked if Miami Beach could adopt the State of Florida pension system and if we can eliminate overtime and unused vacation pay from computing the three highest salary years of employees in their pension programs.
If the city terminates any of these plans, it would immediately have to pay the unfunded liability.
No representative of the city’s employees was present, even though they had been invited to present their views.
The topic of discussion then moved to the Miami Beach Convention Center.
Lyle Stern, a member of the board, said that the Genting Group will go ahead with its massive project with or without gambling, and cited the need to establish a transit link from the old Herald site to the Miami Beach Convention Center.
Jared Galbut discussed the need to continue to push to rebuild our current convention center and noted that he would work with the City and their advisors to accomplish this goal. He stated, the time is now not in 5 or 10 years, we need to make a decision now.
David Kelsey, chairman of the Tuesday Breakfast Club, and a member of the MBTA board, announced that Frank Nero, president of the Beacon Council, would address the next meeting of his organization and invited all to attend.
The next board meeting was announced for Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2011, at 8:30 a.m. at the Shelborne Hotel, 1801 Collins Avenue.