The October 2011, MBTA Board of Directors meeting was held on October 26, 2011 at 8:15 am at the Shelborne Hotel at 1801 Collins Avenue.
President Jared Galbut called meeting to order at 8:30 a.m. The hotel provided a continental breakfast for approximately 40 persons in attendance.
The meeting was opened and first orders of business were stated by Operations Committee Member, Russell Galbut said the Miami Beach Taxpayers should concentrate on endorsing two and a half billion dollar investments by groups such as the Genting Group with certain safeguards.
He said these must include insuring that the Miami Beach Convention Center maintains its preeminence position as a convention center in South Florida.
He said the association also should make sure that a transportation link between the projected site of the Genting Group or any other casino operation in downtown Miami is included in plans for such a development.
He further said the association should concentrate on meaningful reduction of the cost of City of Miami Beach employee pensions.
This issue was discussed amongst the attendees in detail.
President Jared Galbut stated that South Miami has recently signed new contracts with their unions, which will save their city almost $15 million. Changes to the pension include a switch to defined contributions from defined benefits; pensions for police will be calculated without sick, vacation time or private detail. Also, they will now calculate based upon the officer’s highest five years instead of three.
The following resolution was proposed by board of directors to be presented to the Mayor and City Commission in reference to the Pension Reform:
• The Miami Beach Taxpayers Association calls for providing that city pensions be based on the highest pay for a three-year period, not to include sick leave or overtime benefits.
• Pensions should be based on defined contributions by employees and not on defined benefits.
• Maximum pension for any employee shall not exceed 125% of the average salary of persons employed in the public sector of Miami Beach.
• If the above items are not adopted, MBTA would want the City of Miami Beach Pension System to be a part of the State of Florida Pension system
The motion was made to approve this resolution by Rick Kendle and seconded by Ray Breslin, Lyle Stern and Jared Galbut.
The board also stated that if action is not taken by the city commission and mayor within sixty (60) days of passage of this motion at this general meeting of the Miami Beach Taxpayers Association, the Association shall take other action including but not limited to a petition adopting these steps to be approved by the general population of the city.
Next item on the agenda was presented by Director Lyle Stern, regarding destination resorts around the United States showing present and proposed space allocations for gaming, convention and ballroom space, retail stores, condominiums, restaurants, water features, hotel rooms, square footage and acres of property in Las Vegas, Miami Beach and Miami.
The purpose of this presentation showed the massiveness of the Genting Project on its proposed 13 acres compared to other major projects around the US. Concerns were posed on how this would affect traffic flow and Lyle Stern proposed that we meet with all of the local Miami Beach Association Presidents at our meeting to hear their concerns.
Gerald Schwartz was designated to obtain a list of all such organizations and their presidents.
President Jared Galbut then brought up the next item on the agenda, City Commission meetings. He proposed a committee to discuss this, and appointed David Kelsey, Gabrielle Redfern and Frank Del Vechio (although he has not accepted as of yet)
The Board of Directors proposed the following resolution:
• City Commission meetings be bifurcated. The commission agenda dealing with awards and citations should be at a separate time or meeting.
• Those having to do with consent agendas and regular business should be at a set time or different meeting.
• The Mayor, Commission and the City Manager need to immediately focus on the gambling legislation now before the state legislature.
• The Mayor, Commission and City Manager also focus on the need to provide mass transit between downtown Miami and the Miami Beach Convention Center. In addition, focus on maintaining the preeminence of the Miami Beach Convention Center among such facilities in South Florida.
• Prepare the Convention Center for RFP for the private sector to bring the Convention Center up to today’s standards with or without gaming and a new hotel.
• Look more into obtaining money from the CDT to redo the Convention Center.
Lyle Stern moved to pass the resolution, Yehiel Ciment seconded the motion and it was unanimously passed. The motion passed unanimously.
Closing Comments then began at 9:46 am.
Leonard Wien, a member of the board, strongly urged adaptation of water transport as the means of connecting Miami and Miami Beach.
Russell Galbut commented on the failure of The Miami Herald to adequately cover MBTA activities. Gerald Schwartz asked all present to contact editors at The Herald and ask for such coverage. He was then asked to e-mail all present with the appropriate addresses at The Herald.
David Kelsey, chairman of the Tuesday Luncheon Club, invited all to attend his group’s weekly meetings and announced a special speaker on government corruption for the following week.
Meeting was closed at 10:04 am by President Jared Galbut.