MIAMI-DADE (CBSMiami) – Miami-Dade commissioners gave the nod Tuesday to major cuts in police pay and benefits. It’s a deal approved by the rank and file Monday night, but the battle between cops and county hall is not over.
Commissioners ratified a deal that will see the county’s police officers give up $56 million in pay and benefits.
The rank and file were angry but unified as they voted overwhelmingly to approve concessions that will save the jobs of hundreds of fellow officers who would have been laid off.
Mayor Carlos Gimenez woke up grateful.
“It’s a great police department, it’s got a great reputation around the country,” he said. “We unfortunately have tough economic times not only here but everywhere and everybody has to tighten their belt.”
Commission Chairman Joe Martinez did not oppose the deep cuts for cops but said of all county employees, police have been asked to suffer the most.
“Some of them are going to be losing their homes, some of them are going to be in a lot of financial trouble,” he said.
The county is trying to fill a budget hole $200 million in labor concessions. Under terms of the deal, which covers police, corrections, and animal services, officers with take home cars would have to pay $50 every two weeks. In addition, incentive pay and overtime for court appearances and ten holidays would be slashed and officers would receive paid days off for three other holidays.
The vote was gut-wrenching, but saved the jobs of at least 200 of the department’s newer officers.
Police Benevolent Association President John Rivera agreed and said despite the passing of the contract, cops are not happy.
“They are very bitter at the system, they’re very bitter at the Mayor. Morale is the worst I’ve seen in 36 years,” said Rivera.
It doesn’t end here because there’s another major hurdle. The county is still seeking an additional $18 million in cuts from the department by having police employees pay more for their health insurance. Currently, police pay five percent of their salary to their health insurance. Mayor Carlos Gimenez wants them to pay 10 percent.
“I’m not sure where we stand,” said Miami Dade Police Department Director James Loftus. “We have to let that shake out. It’s $18 million, that’s a considerable amount of money but we’ve come so far and we’ll find a way to make it work.”