Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez and the county commission have thrown sizable pay raises to staffers as if they were life vests on a sinking ship. They've simultaneously tossed overboard funding to cultural efforts and other social programs.
According to a new poll commissioned by Local 10 and conducted by Bendixen & Associates, key county leaders are facing high levels of negative opinion, with 46 percent of voters even going as far as saying they'd support a recall of the mayor.
Alvarez takes the brunt of the backlash. Sixty-six percent of voters have a negative opinion of him, while only 24 percent could muster positive feelings. That emotion cuts across the community, with 65 percent of black and Hispanic voters and 61 percent of non-Hispanic white voters giving Alvarez a negative review. Only 23 percent of voters say they trust Alvarez either somewhat or a lot, while 74 percent say they have little or no trust in him.
The county remains split on the possibility of recalling Alvarez, with 46 percent for it and 47 percent against it. Fifty-three percent of white voters and 61 percent of black voters are for a recall, while only 38 percent of Hispanic voters support the idea.
The county commission is also deeply unpopular. Forty-five percent of voters have a negative opinion of the body, while only 34 percent have a positive one. Forty-three percent of blacks share those positive vibes, while only 26 percent of white and Hispanic voters do. Sixty-nine percent have little or no trust in the commission, while 30 percent say they have some or a lot of trust in the body.
Chairman Dennis Moss is looking at 42 percent unfavorability and a measly 17 percent favorability. County Manager George Burgess is also facing a 38 percent negative opinion and 20 percent positive.
Forty-eight percent of voters oppose the commission's decision to keep property taxes flat, while 43 percent support it. The question contained explicitly told voters: "That decision means that most taxpayers will see a drop in their property tax bill for next year. The vote ensures unprecedented cuts in funding for arts programs and for social services for the disabled, elderly, and young. The decision also means that a substantial number of county workers will lose their jobs."
Even among homeowners, the decision was somewhat unpopular, with 48 percent opposing it and 45 percent supporting it.
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Mayor Alvarez's proposal for a small property tax increase and a plan to lay off 1,700 county workers, while cutting the salary of all remaining county workers by 5 percent, was even less popular. Sixty-eight percent opposed the idea, while only 24 percent supported it.
So how would voters like to balance the budget?
- Fifty-nine percent think the best idea is to cut the salaries of all county employees by 10 to 20 percent.
- Nineteen percent support increasing property tax rates.
- Only 7 percent think the budget should be balanced by cutting funding to the arts and social services.
- And just 6 percent support laying off a few thousand county workers.
The telephone poll of 400 registered voters was conducted September 8 and has a margin of error of 5 percent.