Gimenez Vetoes County Commission Vote on Healthcare

In his veto message, the mayor cited a $35 million “budget gap” tied to four unions

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    Miami-Dade mayoral candidate Carlos Gimenez during a debate with other mayoral candidates vying for the open seat during the May 24th general election on May 10, 2011 in Miami, Florida.

    As promised, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez vetoed on Wednesday a recent County Commissioners vote which rebuffed his administration’s proposal to require four county unions to contribute five percent more of their salaries for health benefits.

    Gimenez has sought the concessions from the Police Benevolent Association’s rank and file and supervisors units, and the local professional employees and supervisors unites of the Government Supervisors Association of Florida.

    In his veto message Wednesday, the mayor said the four bargaining units alone represent a $35 million “budget gap.”

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    Without the concessions from the police unions, “the layoffs required to balance the budget will have an effect on essential services, including public safety,” Gimenez wrote.

    About 300 police and 200 GSAF jobs are on the line, according to Gimenez.

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    Thursday morning the commission chamber was packed with officers who, after taking salary and benefit cuts, were asked to concede an additional 5 percent for the cost of their healthcare.

    The employees from the four unions currently contribute 5 percent of their pay toward healthcare, and that would have been upped to 10 percent – if Miami-Dade Commissioners hadn’t defeated the proposal 7-6 last Thursday night.

    Police officers have already conceded over $50 million in benefits to prevent layoffs, and they turned out in force to oppose the 5 percent proposal in the commission’s chamber last Thursday.

    A two-thirds vote by the commission is required to override Gimenez’s veto – meaning nine commissioners, or two more than last week.

    PBA President John Rivera said last week that the commission “spoke very clearly.”

    “Crime in this community is on the upswing. Property crime is going up,” he said. “Layoffs is the last thing the mayor should be considering."

    On Wednesday, he vowed to take the issue to court.

    "Now the commission sided with us, and he doesn’t like it, so he wants to change the rules,” Rivera told NBC Miami. "This world does not run around Carlos Gimenez."

    Gimenez’s administration is also at an impasse over the 5 percent proposal with the unions that represent solid waste and water and sewer employees, and Miami-Dade Commissioners will hold a special meeting Thursday morning to approve other contract measures for those unions, The Miami Herald reported.

    The commissioners won’t deal with the 5 percent issue again until their next regular meeting, on Tuesday, Jan. 24.