City of Miami employees will get a 3 percent pay increase next fiscal year and police officers will receive a 3 percent bonus, commissioners decided during Thursday's budget hearing at City Hall.
Commissioners also discussed a proposal to hire new police officers to replace those who will soon be retiring. They gave their first approval to a budget that would include hiring 25 new officers and filling 40 vacancies.
Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado says he is "presenting a responsible budget." The mayor says the city can safely hire 25 officers and believes it can also "restore some of the benefits to the cops."
But many community groups are asking that more money be carved out of Regalado's $523 million budget to put more cops on the streets. Commission Chairman Marc Sarnoff even cited a spike in crime.
Police officers and Fraternal Order of Police President Javier Ortiz made the case for an additional $10 million for officers.
"With those $10 million we would be able to raise salaries in order to become competitive with all the surrounding law enforcement jurisdictions," Sgt. Ortiz said.
Dozens of police officers showed up at Thursday’s hearing wearing shirts that read "you can't hire 100 new MPD cops if you can't take care of the ones you already have."
The union and the city government are in the middle of a heated battle regarding salaries and benefits. The police union has launched an ad campaign telling potential police candidates not to apply to the Miami Police Department.
The commission gave the budget a first approval Thursday night. But it also instructed managers to go back and look through the budget and see if they could come up with the rest of the $10 million that the union had asked for.
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