Commissioner Xavier Suarez put it in a more colorful way earlier Monday, even before the mayor said he would keep the tax-rate flat.
“He was sitting on an ant hill of his own creation — and he got up very quickly,” Suarez said.
Commissioners will vote Tuesday on the maximum tax rate for the 2013-14 fiscal year. They will be able to lower but not raise the rate later. A decision on specific cuts won’t come until the budget is approved after two public hearings in September.
For the first time, the commission will hold a public hearing at County Hall on Tuesday morning before taking the tax-rate vote.
Later Tuesday, they will vote on impasses with six labor unions over Gimenez’s proposal to extend several benefit concessions, including requiring most workers to contribute 5 percent of their base pay toward group healthcare costs. Only one of the impasses is over both the concessions and the healthcare contribution; the other five are limited to the concessions.
The firefighters union is exempt because it has its own health insurance.
Despite some commissioners’ requests to eliminate the healthcare contribution on Jan. 1, 2014 as planned, Gimenez said he will not budge on that part of his proposed budget.
“We can’t afford it,” he said.
Otherwise, the county would have to cut about $37 million from the general fund and $18 million from elsewhere in the budget, for a total of $55 million. Restoring the other concessions would require an additional $21 million in cuts.
Union chiefs will ask commissioners Tuesday to tap a $42 million surplus in the county’s health-insurance trust fund, which the bargaining units say is unnecessary. The administration argues it helps maintain benefits and hold the line against future health-insurance rate increases.
The Pets’ Trust, the grassroots group that promoted the no-kill animal shelter, has hired big-time lobbyist Ron Book to plead for the full $19 million in funding Tuesday. Gimenez said last week he would instead commit $4 million from the county’s general fund to pay for a stripped-down plan. His office has yet to offer additional details.