Important Statement Regarding the Miami Dade County Budget 2014 /15

Linda Bell, Miami-Dade County Commissioner District 8

As a resident of Miami-Dade County, I highly value our county family of employees and greatly appreciate their service to our community. Elected to serve as a commissioner to look after the best interest of this county, it is not lost on me that all salaries and benefits are paid by taxpayers. In fact, last year when I voted to hold the line and not raise taxes, I knew that returning the full five percent would result in layoffs and service reductions. That was simply unacceptable.

It’s important to note that, when it comes to actual compensation, residents have not been told the whole story. A considerable portion of their taxes are going to pay for salary supplements and excessive benefits – not services. In the upcoming budget year, $113 million of extra benefits are slated to “snap back.” These supplements do not buy you a single extra service; in fact, they will result in a reduction of services.

As the County faces a significant budget gap, thousands of employees receive additional pay supplements designed to increase salaries by up to 45%, resulting in inflated and unsustainable adjusted pay salaries. The current County pay plan defines 187 pay supplements in addition to an employees’ base salary and benefits. These redundant supplements include pay for just showing up to work, first responder pay for the first responders, and extra benefits for simply performing the job they were hired to do.

For example, one of Miami-Dade County’s top paid employees earns over $210,000, enjoying seven supplemental pay adjustments, increasing his salary by a whopping 38% in addition to a $225 bi-weekly incentive.

With some employees collecting upwards of ten pay supplements, how can any public servant in good conscience propose laying off police officers or fire fighters who are on the front-lines saving lives when there are so many, who through the years, have accumulated layers of extra pay resulting in six figure salaries? The public needs to know that by eliminating supplemental payments and excessive benefits, we will unencumber approximately $230 million, more than enough to cover the current service level gap, avoid reduction in positions, and properly fund our Miami-Dade County Public Library System in its entirety.

Taxpayers should ask themselves if the County should be paying up to seven levels of “career development” supplements to reward employees for knowing how to perform their job. Is it not ironic that the County awards certain employees with an incentive just for showing up for work?

Total supplemental payments have increased by nearly $13 million over the last three years alone. Additionally, in the last 12 years every bargaining unit’s salary has increased between 59% and 120%.

We must put an end to the culture of entitlement created by labor leaders. If we truly hope to find a long-term solution to Miami-Dade County’s budget woes public servants should be treated no differently than any other hard working taxpayer who receives a well-earned salary and benefits. No more no less.

Now, as we all know, labor negotiations have trapped Miami-Dade County residents in the center of an abrasive budget battle between union representatives who are calling for an increase in property taxes versus those of us who refuse to raise taxes on residents who can ill afford them, as a result of the weak economy.

Union representatives must bear in mind that their members will be adversely affected, as well as the same community they swore to serve. This intransigence serves no one. However, by coming to the negotiating table, they can be part of the solution. They hold the key in becoming part of a better, stronger and greater Miami-Dade County.

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11 Comments on "Important Statement Regarding the Miami Dade County Budget 2014 /15"

  1. Lady,I don't know where the hell you get your information or figures from!! I haven't had a cost of living raise in over 4 years!! If I'd get a 45 percent pay increase, I'd be the happiest man working for Miami Dade County. I don't know what your motive is! You need to get your facts straights! Make those that earn more than 100 grand take a pay cut!! I can't afford another one!! If they cut my salary anymore, I won't be able to survive, like I've been doing since Alvarez left,and Gimenez came in as First Secretary of the Party in Dade County!!

  2. MDC Employee | July 15, 2014 at 6:38 am | Reply

    With respect Commission Bell, there are other facts which must be brought to bear in this debate. The individual you are referencing in your statement is most likely an hourly based employee, which by state and/or federal law, the county must pay additional benefits and overtime to. Yes, the unions have negotiated some of these special perks for their members, which is the job they have been hired to perform, but lets not lump all county employees within this same category.
    Many salary based employees working for Miami-Dade County do not receive overtime or pay supplements, despite working sometimes 60+ hours a weeks. Our jobs require overtime on a regular basis, but because the positions we hold are described with an expectation of such effort, the county is not required to compensate us under federal employment guidelines.
    We are the people behind the scene, keeping the county running efficiently. Yet, we see newspaper articles complaining that our staff makes too much money. How can anyone say that a person making over $100,000 a year, working in a managerial position, holding several college degrees including an MBA, speaking 6 languages proficiently and is a Mensa level genius, not deserve the money they make. In a private sector position, this same individual could easily be making a mid to high 6 figure salary, but has chosen to serve the public and accepted the lesser pay for a higher purpose.
    Please work to eliminate what you can, in regards to special perks that really should not be received. Just because a police or fire officer knows how to ride a bicycle or scuba dive, should not make that individual eligible for additional pay, when those abilities are not part of their assigned duties. Eliminate the automatic 4 / 8 hour overtime pay, which some fire and police receive, merely because they came to the office on their day off, to read an email as an example, and only spent 30 minutes in the office. Compensate when it is justifiably due to these individuals and for the time they actually spent, not beyond it.
    Lastly, as a resident of Miami-Dade County, the property taxes I pay drive this government and local economy. As a county employee, I also help fund myself, so it drives me to give the citizens the best of my abilities everyday. When I see built in waste of resources, manipulation of policy for an individuals personal gain, open bias favoring Latin Americans over others, funding to charities that the taxpayers have no say in, and county efforts building venues no one wants, I wonder if my decision to live/work in Miami-Dade was correct. In the end, I still believe in this county and hope to see what it becomes in the coming years.

  3. I have been a county employee for 25 years and I have never seen any additional pay supplements. Getting extra pay for just showing up to work? These benefits might exist in the fire department but not in other departments. Trying to make it seem that every county employee have these benefits is in bad faith and is a gross misinterpretation of the facts. Most employees don't recieve pay supplements, have to take 7-9 days a year without pay, pay over $800.00 a month for family insurances and have not seen a pay increase in over five years. Also, pay has been reduced in the last three years to make up for the budget shortfall. Its a shame that a County Commisioner and a Mayor, who control our livehood, be so careless and put out so many lies.

  4. Mr. C. O Jones | July 15, 2014 at 10:05 am | Reply

    Gee Commissioner, Why don't you provide some names, and some specific examples? I am willing to bet that these supplements are for executives, because as a rank and file employee, I know I do not receive any so-called supplements and neither do my co-workers. Come on, commissioner, I thought you were a liberal Democrat. This really surprises me coming from you, so please tell us who gets and what it is that they get, and we can start there. Cops and firemen rape the system with their BS overtime rules, so dish commish. Let's hear it, but don't paint me with the same brush as a highly compensated bureaucrat.

  5. Carlos Oscar Jones | July 15, 2014 at 10:24 am | Reply

    Dear Commissioner Bell,
    Are you running for mayor? It seems to me that you have done a 180 degree turnaround from where I stand. I am a ten year county employee, rank and file nothing special. My co-workers and I have no idea of what a pay supplement is. We have been giving back our pay for the last five years. Have not seen a COLA since Shaq played for the Heat. Been giving back 5% some years, 9% in other years.

    What the heck are you talking about? Are you referring to the bovine rules for overtime for first responders, Everybody hangs around at an incident and pick up some juicy OT? Work a shift at the airport or seaport for eight, stick around for two more and get four hours at OT? Senior employees in the drop get first dibs so they can pad their retirement checks?

    Well that does not apply to me lady, so give us names and specifics. Don't lay the blame on those county employees on whose backs Mayor Giminez has been balancing the budget for his entire administration. Time for a tax increase for all these South Americans who come here to park their money on Brickell Avenue.

    We rank and file have had enough and we are not going to take it from you of the Mayor anymore. We don't get bonuses, supplements or special rules for overtime. We don't make the decisions that cost the county millions in stupid mistakes, cost over-runs or sweetheart deals where our unqualified children get cushy jobs in the county or where our children get jobs with major project contractors. No no no, we just show up and do our jobs, for less money every year

  6. What's going on with everyone in this commission? Do we have to pay for everyone else? Do they really know that not everyone in this County makes more than $60,000.00 or more than $100,000.00? WE pay taxes too for your information and we have families and needs like everyone else in this county.
    But then again you are all are forgetting one important part as county employees we also vote for all of you in the Commission and we have the power to terminated you work as voters. Please do not forget this when the new elections come and you may find your self with an empty chair and your name not longer in the Commissioners Chambers. WE still have a Democratic Country and We the people are the ones that employed YOU all currently serving us as Commissioners.

  7. Carlos Oscar Jones | July 15, 2014 at 2:28 pm | Reply

    How come none of my comments get posted?

  8. Commissioner Bell I agree that there are uneccessary pay supplements to some of the county employees but not all of them. As a mid level county employee who has been employed in Transit for 28 years I have seen few supplements if any. In fact for the past nine years I have lost overtime benefits and stilll work 10 hour days to compensate. I am preparing to retire so that I can maintain my last five years median pay and get an adequete pension. If you are going to suggests cuts please do it intelligently and fairly and start with the mayors office and fire department. Investigate nepotism that is rampant and review files of those whose only qualification to be an Miami Dade employee is that they are bilingual. Im not hating but just just stating the facts. One sixth of the county employees are not qualified to be employees. Try downsizing or eliminating the many managerial positions and require that those who do recieve six figure salaries perform the work.

  9. Retired Employee | July 15, 2014 at 8:41 pm | Reply

    We all knew 15 years ago that the executive compensation program needed to be scaled back. But the ones that benefit from the program make the final decisions. So nothing changed. Certain Labor Unions work hard to get hefty supplements for their members. Unfortunately the employees that always take the biggest hit are the middle to lower salaried employees that are so dependent on every penny they earn. If you want to be really fair, scale back the salaries and benefits compensation levels of all executives.

  10. County Employee | July 17, 2014 at 2:12 pm | Reply

    Commissioner Bell

    How many of your staff members are contributing the 5% to health care cost or have had their merits and longevity checks taken away? Or are you doing like all the other Commissioners using your discretionary fund to cover that cost, so that your employees don't have hardship. That's taking money away from the community and program, wear is the fairness in that.

  11. County employee | October 2, 2014 at 11:24 pm | Reply

    Not only am I a County employee, but I live in and pay taxes in Dade County. I am a job basis employee, which means I work until the job is done and am not compensated when I work 12 hours a day. Most often than not, I do not take a lunch break due to the heavy work load. This work load, by the way, continues to get overwhelming due to the cut backs in staffing. I often have to purchase my own work supplies (copier paper, in pens, and hand sanitizer) because there is no money in the budget ito cover these expenses. Shame on you, for including employees who have worked without pay for the past two – three years, have not received cost of living increases and are barely making it in your rant concerning those who are obviously at your level. I work very hard, everyday and often have to take work home to satisfy expectations and requirements. Walk a mile in my shoes for one day, please.

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