Politics

Hialeah: Drive a City Car, And You’ll Pay

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HIALEAH (CBSMiami) – It’s a pretty sweet deal linked to thousands of South Florida government jobs. Not only do taxpayers pay for a car for employees to do their jobs, but the let those workers take the car home, meaning taxpayers subsidize their commute. In Hialeah, those days are over, by mayoral decree.

Effectively immediately, if you’re a Hialeah city worker and you’re allowed to take home a city-provided car, in most cases you’ll have to pay for every mile you travel between home and work. The rate to start will be 30 cents a mile.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Mayor Carlos Hernandez said the plan could save the city $375 thousand annually.

The plan also includes many police officers, who have long taken home patrol cars at no cost to them. Now, they will be expected to pay for their commute, with the exceptions of K-9 and SWAT officers.

The policy won’t be much of a problem for people who live within the city limits, but city policy allows people to take home cars even if they live in other counties. The longer the commute, the more the policy will cost the driver.

The take-home policy doesn’t stop at the Mayor’s door. For years, Miami-Dade’s 5th largest city has paid its mayor very well, over a quarter-million dollars a year in salary and other benefits, including the free use of a car. While Hernandez has cut his pay to $190 thousand annually, he still kept the free car, until now.

Hernandez said he, too, will be paying 30 cents a mile.

“With high gas prices and the economic situation our Country is presently encountering, it is imperative that as local government we operate as efficient as possible by reducing costs in order to save taxpayer dollars,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez stepped into the Mayor’s office after former Hialeah mayor Julio Robaina resigned to stage a losing run for Miami-Dade mayor. He faces a number of challengers in this fall’s election, including Raul Martinez, the legendary Hialeah politician and multi-term mayor who retired having never lost a mayoral election.

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