The municipality would not rule out future emergency declarations, but promised not to cut wages and social benefits for the duration of the deal. After finishing with the police, the administrators prepared to work late into the night to develop a separate contract with the firefighters` union. During Tuesday`s negotiations, union leaders begged the municipal government not to declare a financial emergency in the future. “They all see it as an accounting maneuver, but it`s more than that,” said FOP attorney Ron Cohen, fueling the action with a “blow in the stomach” that caused irreparable damage to labor relations. Despite the hole, the municipal commission refused to raise taxes. In July, commissioners tentatively set the tax rate at $8.47 $US per $1,000 of taxable property, down slightly from the previous year. The proposed contract still needs to be approved by union members and the Municipal Commission. The Commission will likely consider it at a closed executive meeting on Wednesday and again at the first hearing on the public budget on Thursday. Some of the proposed contract languages were still being checked late Tuesday night by the city`s pension experts, but administrators were confident the agreements would hold.
The city of Miami and its police union agreed Tuesday on a two-year contract that would give pay raises to civil servants in 2014, while limiting the retirement costs of the financially troubled city. The preliminary deal, which would generate $11.5 million in savings for Miami, represents a significant step forward in the city`s drive to balance its budget by the end of the month. Miami tried to fill a $40 million hole in its $485 million operating budget by negotiating concessions for employees. Earlier this summer, the police`s sister order left collective bargaining and threatened not to return to the table. If authorized, the new contract would grant a 3% increase to police personnel in April 2014. Public servants have not received an increase since 2009. Their salaries were cut the following year to balance the budget. A Miami-Dade district judge struck down the city over the financial emergency in August, but the police union`s victory was short-lived.
Last week, the Court of Appeal of the Third Arrondissement annulled the first instance. Most of the savings would come from an accounting change that would change the way the City`s pension obligation is calculated. In addition, new employees should devote more time to their retirement. Although the contribution requested by current employees is 10%, new recruitments are expected to contribute 13%. In addition, the department could buy new police cars next year. And civil servants would no longer have to pay a fee per kilometre for their take-away cars. The agreement could foreshadow things to come. City officials want to strike an agreement with each of the four unions, and representatives of the police and fire unions were seen as the toughest negotiators. Balancing the 2012-13 budget was a monumental undertaking for the city. Property tax revenues are expected to increase by $2 million, but pension and health care costs have increased and contributed to the $40 million gap, said budget director Danny Alfonso. Aguilar participated last week in a hearing on the request for financial emergency. “The next few years are pretty safe,” Martinez said.
Things are moving in the right direction. Shortly after, City Manager Johnny Martinez explained a state of financial emergency, a legal maneuver that would have allowed forced concessions by employees. The action triggered a legal action by the FOP. “I think this is a step in the right direction,” Miami FOP Vice President Sgt. Javier Ortiz said after 11 hours of negotiations on Tuesday. “At the end of the day, it`s up to the members to decide.” Staff members would also waive physical and new uniforms in the second year of the contract and the department would reduce some fuel and overtime costs. . . .