via Michael Sallah and @jayhweaver
In March, the lights were turned off for several hours at Opa-locka City Hall after the bill didn’t get paid.
The next month, the cell phone service used by police detectives was cut off for days because the city didn’t make the payments.
Two weeks ago, the medical benefits of city workers were abruptly canceled when the city failed to pay the premium.
Eight months after elected leaders were warned their city was close to financial collapse, Miami-Dade County leaders have asked the state to declare a financial emergency and consider taking over the troubled city’s entire operations.
With Opa-locka struggling to pay basic costs — including gas for police cars — Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez urged the governor’s office for the second time in as many months to place the city of 16,000 people under its control.
“We believe the city’s financial condition continues to deteriorate,” Gimenez and County Commissioner Barbara Jordan wrote in a letter on May 3 to the governor’s inspector general. “If the state does not take immediate action, there could be a shutdown of city government.”
With no formal recovery plan in place by Opa-locka leaders, top county officials say they do not believe the city is capable of saving itself from insolvency. Already, Miami-Dade police have been put on notice that they will be mobilized to provide police services if municipal operations cease.