By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By David Villano
By Jose D. Duran
By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Luther Campbell
Property values plummet. Tax revenues fall. Garbage collectors, lifeguards, and cops lose their jobs.
How about the rich guys on top? Those city managers, departments heads, and brainless bureaucrats bitch and moan. But any thought of cutting back their six-figure salaries, car allowances, and fat office staffs?
No friggin' way.
Did you know that 46 county attorneys make more than $200,000 per year? That the best-paid do-nothing exec is county manager George Burgess, who rakes in $343,515 annually plus benefits? Or that none of these pathetic corner office dwellers would even bother to answer phone calls or emails asking why they're worth so many of your tax dollars?
Well, if that incenses you as much as it does us, you have a chance to complain during the next week or so, when most Miami-Dade cities will hold public hearings on their proposed budget cuts.
What follows is a primer.
• Cynthia Curry, economic development senior advisor, $253,767 annual salary plus a $18,720 executive benefits package. Total: $272,487.
• Alina Tejeda Hudak, assistant county manager, $258,967 annual salary plus a $18,720 executive benefits package. Total: $277, 687.
Proposed cuts: To close the gap on a $444 million shortfall, Mayor Carlos Alvarez (salary: $344,947) has proposed a 5 percent pay cut for all county employees, freezing longevity bonuses, and dumping 1,700 people who earn less than he does. He also plans to gut approximately $30 million in funding for arts groups, social service, and other agencies that help get kids off drugs and fight domestic violence.
Screwed civil servant: Eddy Horn, age 46, is a solid waste dump truck driver. He makes $46,200 annually and will lose $2,250 of it next year. "With that money, I could have paid for my children's Christmas gifts," he says.
Budget hearing date and time: Thursday, September 17, 5 p.m., Stephen P. Clark Government Center, 111 NW First St., Miami.
• Robert Middaugh Jr., assistant city manager, $221,772 annual salary.
• Patricia Walker, chief financial officer, $221,772 annual salary.
Proposed cuts: The city has a $20 million gap to fill, so City Manager Jorge Gonzalez (salary: $284,600) proposes firing at least 56 employees and freezing salaries. He'd also like to eliminate annual raises and cost-of-living adjustments.
Screwed civil servant: Benita Argos, age 73, is a building department worker who earns $63,000 per year. She might lose her job October 1. "I am a widow, and social security is not enough for me to pay my bills," she says. "I don't know what I will do to pay the mortgage, maintenance fees, and insurance on my condo."
Budget hearing date and time: Thursday, September 24, 5 p.m., 1700 Convention Center Dr., Miami Beach.
• Larry Spring, chief financial officer, $233,525 annual salary, $43,000 special compensation. Total: $276,525.
• John Timoney, police chief, $232,873 annual salary, $41,500 special compensation. Total: $274,373.
Proposed budget cuts: Facing a $118 million hole in the projected $491 million budget, Mayor Manny Diaz (salary: $150,000) proposes getting rid of 191 sworn police officers, 305 general union employees, 5 firefighters, and 110 nonunion workers. Employees earning more than $250,000 a year (including benefits) face a 15 percent pay cut.
Screwed civil servant: Louis Bridges, age 56, is a city painter who makes $50,000 a year. Come October 1, he will no longer have a job under Diaz's proposed budget. "They are getting rid of the little people yet keeping all the people with the big salaries," he says. "I am scared. I have three daughters to take care of."
Budget hearing date and time: Thursday, September 24, 5 p.m., 3500 Pan American Dr., Miami.
• Lynn Dannheisser, town attorney, $177,000 annual salary.
• David Allen, police chief, $131,000 per year.
Proposed cuts: The small beach town faces a $1 million deficit, so plans are under way to shut down the library, resulting in the firing of one part-time and three full-time librarians. Other proposals: Eliminate the $58,835 annual agreement with Miami Shores for use of the public pool and lay off two full-time cops.
Screwed civil servant: Gerardo Puente, age 21, is a part-time park staffer who makes $8.23 an hour. He might be laid off October 1. "If I don't find a new job, I won't be able to pay for my basic necessities," he says. "I'll have no money for my car insurance or my rent."
Budget hearing date and time: Monday, September 21, 5 p.m., 9293 Harding Ave., Surfside.
• Patrick Salerno, city manager, $190,000 annual salary.
• Elizabeth Hernandez, city attorney, $162,699 per year.
Proposed cuts: To cover a $10 to $13 million budget shortfall, Salerno plans to eliminate 12 to 15 sworn police officers, 11 public service aides, and 10 public works employees. The city manager has also recommended the commission adopt a tax increase and raise fees for false alarm violations, garbage collection, and even parking meters.
Screwed civil servant: Roberto Cardenas Perez, age 43, earns $40,000 a year as a public service aide. He is slated for termination. "This is the worst time to lose my job, considering there are no jobs anywhere else," he says. "My family depends on me."
Budget hearing date and time: Tuesday, September 22, 5 p.m., 405 Biltmore Way, Coral Gables.