Some sobering statistics

(Originally published 6/2/11)

As if we didn’t already know how horrible the economy is, I came across this website (http://www.areavibes.com/north+miami+beach-fl/employment/) showing the employment statistics here in North Miami Beach.  Or, should I say UNemployment statistics?  For example, the income per capita in NMB is $18,080.00, well below pretty much anyone’s minimum standard of living.  Of course, “per capita” is the average of all income, including kids too young to work and other people who can’t for whatever reason, but it’s still a fair amount below the income per capita in all of Florida, which is $27,496.00.  However, even the median household income in North Miami Beach of $38,594.00 is less than that in Florida of $49,795.00, and way below the national median household income of $54,595.00.

Even more glaring is the difference in median income between homeowners and renters in all three categories – local, state and national, where homeowners make nearly twice as much as renters.  Still, the highest median income of homeowners nationally is only $63,664.00. Now, I am not wealthy by any standards, but I find it hard to believe that anyone can raise a family with two or more kids (in my case we raised five of them!) on even $63,000.00 a year in today’s world, especially with milk and gas costing about $4.00 a gallon.  And forget a loaf of bread!  The price of groceries has skyrocketed so much that coffee has nearly doubled in the last year, that I wonder how people with even less income than I have aren’t literally going hungry.

But, the scariest statistic by far, according to this website, is that the poverty level in NMB is 20.5%, which is “56.4% greater than the Florida average and 66.9% greater than the national average.”  That is stunningly and shockingly sad.

Of course, none of these statistics take into account some of the high level employees at City Hall, who are easily making six figures and are entitled to a pension package worth more than many North Miami Beach residents could possibly earn in their lifetime even if they worked around the clock for fifty years or more.  Their salaries aren’t included in these median income statistics for NMB because most of those employees don’t live in North Miami Beach.

So, while we residents are all struggling to put food on the table, clothes on our kids, and school supplies in their backpacks, gas up our cars, make our mortgage or rent payments on time, and insure our homes against the inevitable hurricane that’s bound to hit us sooner or later, all on a median household income of $38,594.00, some of the high level employees at City Hall don’t even have to think about these things.

Now, I certainly do not envy the rich.  I do not begrudge those folks who spent the time and money it took to go to college and graduate school, and earn enough degrees to enable them to earn a fabulous living.  More power to them!  I salute their achievement in life, as this is truly the American Dream.  (I pray that my own children have this kind of success!)  These folks surely deserve to earn as much as they possibly can.  Just not on the backs of taxpayers who are on the verge of losing their homes.

What I don’t like or appreciate is that a city with a poverty rate of 20.5%, with so many folks barely able to feed one kid, much less two, three or more, can continue to spend our tax dollars like there’s no tomorrow.  Property values, our only taxable resource, are continuing to fall, the unemployment rate is still high, and the price of everything is going through the roof.  Can we really afford to pay the salaries and benefits we are now doling out at City Hall?  How much longer can this party continue until the city goes completely bankrupt?  I’m guessing we’re pretty much near the breaking point.

Our new mayor and council haven’t even had their first meeting yet, but the time is now for the council and the city manager to take a good hard look at the fiscal health of our city and make some tough decisions.  Those employees at the top of the food chain who are cleaning up at our expense are probably going to have to face the music and either accept the reality of the situation or look for jobs elsewhere.  It’s almost time to start preparing the budget for the next fiscal year, which starts October 1, 2011.  I hope the manager and council are preparing themselves for some serious budget cutting.  I know without a doubt that Mayor Vallejo is up to the task.  I just hope the rest of the council is on the same page – especially those up there who have no problem generously spending our money.  I’m not going to name them just yet.  They know who they are.  I just hope they know we’re all watching.

Stephanie Kienzle
“Spreading the Wealth”

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