The Homestead City Council has backtracked on its decision to hire an assistant for each elected official, saying the move would cost too much.
Instead, the council hopes to yank an assistant from another department, or recruit interns.
The council had voted in December to hire a helper for the mayor and each of the six council members without knowing how much the new hires would affect the city’s bottom line.
After a memo from the city’s finance director pegged the cost at $311,000 a year, Councilwoman Patricia Fairclough-McCormick moved at a Jan. 8 meeting to reconsider.
The councilwoman said the financial cost is too much for her to bear.
“I’ve had a hard time digesting those numbers,” Fairclough-McCormick said. “It’s equivalent to acid reflux; It just wont settle.”
Mayor Steve Bateman offered her antacids.
Fairclough-McCormick and the other council members stood by their claims that they need more help. Instead of treating the problem with Tums — or by spending more money — Fairclough-McCormick suggested transferring an assistant from another department. Councilman Stephen Shelley suggested recruiting interns from the local Miami Dade College campus as a “low-cost solution.”
Mayor Bateman still wants his own assistant. He said he has asked his assistant to keep a log of how many people come to the mayor’s office each day looking for help. On the day of the meeting, seven people had walked into City Hall to speak with the mayor, he said.
Councilman Elvis Maldonado pushed for hiring at least one more assistant, suggesting the Office of the Mayor and Council is the only understaffed department in the city.
“I want to make sure that we’re being efficient in what we do, and are getting to the people we represent,” he said. “The manager as well as everyone here in the city, everyone is staffed up. Everyone has what they need to be efficient.”
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