Politics & Government

As feds probe Miami's finances, city's budget director fired

MIAMI — Miami Budget Director Michael Boudreaux was fired Monday, blamed for a series of questionable multimillion-dollar transfers that helped prop up the city budget but are now central to a federal investigation into the city's financial mess.

Boudreaux, who gained his administrative post in 2005 and earned a salary of just under $200,000, was called to City Manager Carlos Migoya's office first thing Monday morning and told the news.

The manager has also put a halt to capital projects using general fund money and ordered Miami to stop procurement for three months as the financially strapped city scrambles to steady its financial grip.

Migoya, brought in by Mayor Tomás Regalado two weeks ago to shore up the city's finances and deal with a widening federal probe, said he dismissed Boudreaux after studying a series of money transfers used to balance the city's books in 2007 and 2008.

Looking to balance the budget in 2007 and 2008, Boudreaux said he had found $26.4 million in unused general fund money in capital accounts from long dead or finished projects. He then shifted that money back to the general fund. Yet Migoya said Boudreaux's actions effectively halted projects that remained ongoing. Plus, he said, ``the people in Capital Improvements were not told to stop spending money against it.''

Boudreaux's attorney, Michael Pizzi, called his client ``a convenient scapegoat'' who won't rest until his name is cleared.

"They're trying to make Mike a scapegoat for decisions that were not his, decisions that were made by other people who were fully briefed, including elected officials,'' said Pizzi, who said he is weighing legal action.

Chief Financial Officer Larry Spring, Finance Director Diana Gomez and former City Manager Pete Hernandez were aware of the moves and signed off on them. Commissioners eventually voted to approve the $26.4 million in transfers, yet some say they were in the dark over the true source of some of that money.

Read the full story at MiamiHerald.com