There is no resting moment for Miami's top elected official.
Before the first week of the new year ended, Mayor Brent Brassfield sat at a small circular table in his family's fitness facility where he paid bills, punched numbers into a Blackberry and scratched his goals for the new year on a fresh legal pad.
“These are my personal thoughts, Brassfield said as he glanced over several bulleted items. “This closely follows the city's work plan, but I cannot speak for the council. However, these things are a priority for me in 2007.
Topping the list for Brassfield are city streets.
“We are calling this The Year of the Road,' Brassfield said.
Residents' concerns over the quality of city streets have been heard, he said.
City council members took the first step in addressing the streets last year when they approved a comprehensive street assessment.
“It was worse than we thought, Brassfield said. “According to the assessment, to make every street in the city like new' again, it will take $18 million.
There are 110 miles of road surface in Miami, according to Brassfield, and 80 percent of them are in “bad shape.
City officials and council members said at the 2006 city retreat that the staggering number was evidence of the lack of a well thought out road maintenance plan that has plagued multiple administrations.
“I don't think Miami has ever had a structured road plan in effect to where you actually have regularly scheduled maintenance on streets, Brassfield said last week. “Filling chug holes with asphalt and quick fixes are not an effective way to spend tax-payer dollars.
However, even the best laid plans are futile without funding.
“I hear people say all the time, why did you build a new ball field? Streets are more important,' Brassfield said. “Or they ask why we upgraded the swimming pool when the money could be spent on other things.
The swimming pool - a city improvement that was completed with a utility assessment - is easily justified, according to Brassfield. The city-owned facility was in disrepair and water loss was costing the taxpayers thousands of dollars every year.
With the upgrade, the pool is a now a summer destination for people throughout the county as hundreds of thousands of swimmers moved through the turnstile last summer.
The ballpark is the result of a $97,000 grant awarded to the City of Miami for the specific purpose of building a youth ball park.
“The money could only be used for that purpose, Brassfield said.
The mayor said streets are a priority and the city council and administration are putting the issue on the front burner in 2007. But, new roads come with a caveat - a funding mechanism.
Brassfield said that paying for new roads and sustaining a maintenance program will require either a dedicated tax or another assessment.
One requires a vote of the people, the other does not.