Columns

Millions in Car Allowances and Other Perks Safe From Budget Cuts

Tomorrow evening, Miami-Dade County Commissioners will finally set the budget for the upcoming year.

We already know that Mayor Carlos Alvarez is proposing some seriously draconian cuts and will make good on his promise to lay of 1,700 employees, which does not bode well for south Florida, where the unemployment rate has soared past ten percent and where we are still seeing a record number of foreclosures take place.

And to further close the gap on a $444 million shortfall, the mayor (who earns a salary and benefits package totaling $344,947) is also proposing a 5 percent pay cut for all county

employees, freezing longevity bonuses, and gutting approximately $30 million

in funding for arts groups, social service, and other agencies that

help get kids off drugs and fight domestic violence.

But the mayor, the county commissioners, County Manager George Burgess, his assistants and assistant county managers, department directors, assistant department directors and approximately 400 other county employees who take advantage of tax-payer-funded car allowances, cell phones and other perks won't have to worry about losing out on their benefits.

Even though Miami-Dade County spends an average of $5 million per year on county executive benefits, the county will not be making any cuts to the pot of money used for those perks, according to Alvarez spokeswoman Vicki Mallette. In the case of each county commissioner, they each recieve a package worth $18,720, as does every department director and several assistant county attorneys.

Remember that if you plan to attend the budget hearing that starts at 5 p.m. tomorrow in the commission chamber at 111 N.W. First Street in downtown Miami.

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Francisco Alvarado was born in Nicaragua and grew up in Miami, giving him unique insight into the Magic City and all its dark corners. An investigative reporter with a knack for uncovering corruption, Alvarado made his bones as a staff writer at Miami New Times and remains in dogged pursuit of the next juicy story.