News & Highlights

MBTA Meeting Tomorrow (1/4/12) @ 5:30 PM: SHELBORNE HOTEL BALLROOM

January 3rd, 2012

Dear Fellow Taxpayer,

City Commissioner Jerry Libbin, president of the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce, will open a campaign to establish a new, full-time city position of Condominium Ombudsman. The commissioner will address these issues during tomorrow’s meeting at 5:30 pm in the Shelborne Hotel’s Ballroom.

Libbin says the new post will help not only condominium owners, but single family residents as well by increasing time and space at Miami Beach departments which deal with potential problems of the tens of thousands of condo owners. He hope to obtain the approximately 4,200 signatures on petitions to establish the position, but will ask the commission to place the subject on a citywide election if the signature drive falls short.

The time for Wednesday’s meeting is a change from the usual 8:30 a.m. session to 5:30 pm, due to overwhelming requests due to many taxpayer’s work schedules.

Russell Galbut, program chairman, said interest in helping condominium owners has become one the Taxpayers Association’s major topics. Others are lowering pension costs, government inefficiency and how to respond to the statewide proposal for new gambling casinos in South Florida.

Refreshments will be served and Wednesday’s meeting is free and open to the public.

For further information, telephone association secretary Gerald Schwartz at (305) 792-9711.

Kindest Regards,

Jared Galbut
President, MBTA

MBTA GENERAL MEETING: 12/7/11 at 8:30 AM AT SHELBORNE HOTEL

December 8th, 2011

Dear Fellow Miami Beach Taxpayers,

WE INVITE YOU TO ATTEND THE GENERAL MEETING OF THE MIAMI BEACH TAXPAYERS ASSOCIATION THIS WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 7TH AT 8:30 A.M. SHELBORNE HOTEL, 1801 COLLINS AVENUE.

MAYOR MATTI BOWER WILL DISCUSS PUBLIC AND PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS IN GENERAL AS WELL AS TWO SPECIFIC VITAL PROJECTS AFFECTING ALL OF US ON MIAMI BEACH!

THE FIRST IS THE IMROVEMENT OF THE MIAMI BEACH CONVENTION CENTER FLYER ATTACHED HERETO AND IMPLICATIONS WITH AND WITHOUT GAMING BEING APPROVED IN DADE COUNTY.

SECOND IS 500-600 ALTON ROAD DEVELOPMENT PROJECT, WHICH WILL CONNECT THE BAY WALK AND THE OCEAN WALK AND PROVIDE FOR A PEDESTRIAN BRIDGE ACROSS 395 MACARTHUR CAUSEWAY AS WELL AS A 3+ “HI-LINE”ACRE PARK ADDITION.

THE MEETING IS OPEN TO ALL MIAMI BEACH RESIDENTS AND TAXPAYERS; A SMALL CONTINENTAL BREAKFAST WILL BE SERVED.

UPDATE FOR TOMORROW’S (11/16) MEETING

November 15th, 2011

Tuesday November 15th 2011
Greetings from the Miami Beach Tax Payers Association!

Dear Fellow Miami Beach Taxpayers,

Tomorrow morning at 8:15 AM at the Shelborne Hotel, there will be the Board of Director’s meeting of the Miami Beach Taxpayers Association held in the meeting room above the front desk.

This meeting will have two presentations both of which are extremely important to our community and its future development.

• The first is the Miami Beach Convention Center and a potential Flagship Hotel discussion with Kim Sinatra, General Counsel for Wynn Resorts. Kim who works every day with Steve Wynn will share her experiences and the views of Mr. Wynn as it relates to the Miami Beach Convention Center and gaming in general here in South Florida.

• The second item is a SOFI discussion on a new possible joint effort of the city and a developer, to create a pedestrian connection over the 5th street causeway and a public “Hi Line” park connecting 500-600 Alton Rd to Miami Beach Marina and South Pointe Park as well as the linkage for the Bay Walk.

As always the board will discuss all the items on its normal agenda after these two presentations. Please try and attend this most important meeting tomorrow Wednesday at 8:30am at the Shelborne Hotel, 1801 Collins Ave. Looking forward to seeing you there.

Kindest Regards,

Jared Galbut
President, MBTA

Board of Directors Meeting: November 16, 2011 @ 8:15 AM

November 14th, 2011

Our Board of Directors Meeting will be held November 16, 2011 at 8:15 AM at the Shelborne Hotel.

Topics of Discussion will include:

1. Recent Election Results
2. Latest Updates on the Miami Beach Convention Center and Gaming Legislation
3. 600 Alton Road Presentation

Coffee and Muffins will be served as usual, please feel free to join us.

The meeting will be held in the meeting room above the front desk.

General Meeting Minutes from November 2, 2011

November 14th, 2011

Where/When:
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.

Purpose:

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.

Meeting Minutes: October 26, 2011 Board Meeting

November 1st, 2011

Where/When:
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.

Purpose:

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.

MBTA General Meeting – November 2, 2011 at Shelborne Hotel (DAY AFTER ELECTION!)

October 31st, 2011

Come and join us for our General Meeting the day after the Miami Beach Mayoral Election. We have invited all of the candidate to join the meeting and if there is a meeting, convince us the taxpayers why they should be our mayor. This is going to be an exciting election, do not miss this meeting! 8:15 am at the Shelborne Hotel (1801 Collins Ave.), Muffins and Coffee will be served. Meeting will be held in the Ballroom.

We will also be having speakers on Pension Reform in the City of Miami Beach from members from the Union and Commissioner Deede Weithorn. This has been a very heated topic in the city as pension costs to the city have skyrocketed over the past five years.

This will be an exciting and informative meeting, please come and tell all of your local taxpayers, friends and family to join as well.

MBTA Board of Directors Meeting: October 26, 2011 at 8:15 AM

October 24th, 2011

Please join us for our next Board of Director’s Meeting at the Shelborne Hotel on October 26, 2011 at 8:15 am.

We will continue our dicscussion on the new Genting Project, Pension Reform on Miami Beach and any new issues brought up by the committees.

As always, coffee and muffins will be served.

Meeting will be held in the board room above the front desk.

Thank you.

MBTA October 5, 2011 – General Meeting Notice

October 24th, 2011

Come and hear the facts from South Florida’s Biggest Development project, Resorts World Miami. Representatives from the Genting and Arquitectonica will be attending to present the project to Miami Beach residents and answer any questions.

Meeting begins at 8:30 am at the Shelborne Hotel. Continental Breakfast will be served.

MEETING MINUTES FROM SEPTEMBER 7, 2011 GENERAL MEETING

September 12th, 2011

MEETING MINUTES FROM SEPTEMBER 7, 2011 GENERAL MEETING

Where/When:

General Meeting was held Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011 at the Shelborne Hotel, 1801 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach.

Purpose:

To discuss economic, social and governmental issues of importance to the citizens and taxpayers of the City of Miami Beach.

President Jared Galbut called meeting to order at 8:54 a.m. An attendance of some 150 people, including Miami Beach Mayor Mattie Bower and four city commissioners were on hand.

President Galbut read the mission statement of the Miami Beach Taxpayers Association.

David Kelsey, chairman of the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club, reported on the subcommittee which studies the Miami Beach Convention Center, including potential expansion and competition.

He said his committee studied existing data calling for expansion of the M.B. Convention Center. It then looked at additional uses for the Convention Center. It then studied the development of a new City of Miami Convention Center on the site of The Miami Herald and development of other convention centers in South Florida.

Mayor Carlos Gimenez of Miami-Dade County was welcomed by Russell Galbut.

Distinguished Guest, Mayor Carlos Gimenez

Mayor Gimenez said that in the eight weeks that he has assumed office. He’s been trying to do everything he possibly can to streamline government.

He said he fulfilled a campaign promise by leading the effort to roll back the county mileage to the 2009-2010 level.

He reduced 42 county departments to 25, saving $5 million annually.

Promises

He said that the county mayor is mission driven, and that he and his commission are making it easier for new businesses to open up in Miami-Dade.

“I am determined to look at regulations which don’t make sense, and get rid of them. We will have a balanced budget, “Mayor Gimenez said.

He said the county needs $135 million in concessions from labor unions. Negotiations with some of the unions are “getting close, others are still far away.”

Mayor Gimenez said the county will reduce personnel by 1,300 persons even if the unions make the requested concessions.

He said his goal is to regain public confidence in county government, and that his central effort is for job creation.

He said, “I will go throughout South America to help increase trade with the United States, and Miami-Dade can be the center of Latin America.”

He announced that there are several big companies which are looking at opening business in Miami-Dade, and that he is committed to Miami Beach having a first-class Convention Center.
“We will look at other industries, because we need more than tourism and construction,” he asserted.

He defended hiring four deputy mayors, and said a fifth will come on board next week.

He said he also eliminated 11 positions in the office of the mayor, saving $1,000,000.

“We no longer have a county manager, and I will make the final decisions,” he concluded.

Questions & Answers

He was asked how to get unions to come to the table. “I have given instructions to the personnel office to institute layoffs. There is no wiggle room. The county commission can’t back away. I’m optimistic they will come to the table. We will be balanced. There is no choice.”

Russell Galbut asked “How do we get people from the mainland to Miami Beach. Traffic on Interstate I-395 is at capacity and I 95 speed lanes do not allow existing onto 195 to Beach.”

Mayor Gimenez said “The tunnel project will start very soon. I think we will have to hook up Miami and Miami Beach with a mass-transit facility. There simply is no other choice.

Miami Beach Mayor Bower asked how the use of 300 trucks on the tunnel project will impact traffic. Mayor Gimenez offered to get together with Mattie and meet with the “tunnel folks.”

He was asked how Miami Beach can keep up with Miami developing convention center competition.
“We must have two viable convention centers. It depends on Miami Beach leadership.”
Mayor Gimenez said “The group which bought the Herald site has serious money, and plans on building a destination casino. This project must compliment Miami Beach if Miami Beach leadership will engage.”

Russell Galbut asked “How do we solve the problem of the local building departments being so impossible to deal with, (with only the State of Florida functioning properly).

Mayor Gimenez said “We are putting everything into one department so you don’t have to stand in line to get permits with 4 different agencies. And we are looking in to opening satellite offices to expedite the process.”

He was asked if we can eliminate the use of trailers at public schools, and whether a mass transit link would be required before allowing a casino to open at The Miami Herald site.

The mayor said schools are not in his area, but that mass transit must precede a casino.

He was asked about “some bus lines run only once an hour during the night,” and said “we need a critical mass of population to permit expanding service, and don’t have the funding to underwrite more frequent services without riders.”

Gabriella Redfern, chairperson of the Fiscal Responsibility subcommittee, reported that the city must address the future of pensions, and must open a one-shop venue for opening businesses.

A city employee asked if he can serve on committees of the Taxpayers and was told that everyone is invited to participate but no commissioner or city employee can serve as a director.

President Jared Galbut closed the meeting after an open forum period at 10:31 am

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