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Coral Gables

Coral Gables allows employees to designate domestic partner for benefits

TRIBUTE: Coral Gables Commissioners listen as Mayor Jim Cason (third from right) presents Fire Chief Walter Reed with a certificate of appreciation. Reed (center, brown suit) is retiring after serving the department for 28 years, the last six as chief.
TRIBUTE: Coral Gables Commissioners listen as Mayor Jim Cason (third from right) presents Fire Chief Walter Reed with a certificate of appreciation. Reed (center, brown suit) is retiring after serving the department for 28 years, the last six as chief.
HOWARD COHEN / Miami Herald Staff

Coral Gables commissioners voted to amend various provisions of the city’s retirement system to provide for the payment of disability benefits to an employee’s partner in the event of the employee’s death.

The five commissioners voted unanimously on the ordinance’s second reading and passed it without discussion.

The program covers the employee’s partner, regardless of whether he or she is of the same or opposite sex. The move was primarily one of housekeeping, providing language in the ordinance to allow an employed domestic partner to name a beneficiary.

Management, the general employees and police unions have all requested and received the domestic partner benefit in previous negotiations. The fire union has yet to ask for the benefit. “All they would have to do is tell us ‘yes’ and we’d give it to them now,” City Manager Pat Salerno said Tuesday afternoon. “Today was simply amending our pension ordinance to allow a domestic partner to name their domestic partner to receive benefits.”

The commission also agreed in a 4-0 vote to make a minor change to zoning regulations to allow Pi Kappa Alpha to build a new fraternity house at Mataro Avenue and San Amaro Drive. The site belongs to the University of Miami. Commissioner Vince Lago abstained from voting because he is a project executive with BDI Construction Company, the firm working on the site.

The commission also re-appointed Pat Whitely, Sarah Artecona and David Rivero — UM nominees— to each serve another two-year term as members of the Coral Gables/University of Miami Community Relations Committee.

In other business, Mayor Jim Cason and the Commission honored departing Fire Chief Walter Reed with a certificate of appreciation on the eve of his retirement. He was with the fire department for 25 years, including the last five as chief. Deputy Fire Chief Mark Stolzenberg will serve as the interim chief.

Salerno paid tribute to Reed, a man he credited for smoothing his transition into office soon after Reed took charge of the fire department.

“I was never worried, never concerned, I always knew he’d make the right decisions all the time from the perspective of this community,” Salerno said. “That’s very rare for a manager to feel that way about another manager in a complex situation. Thank you for making my time a lot easier, because I didn’t have to be concerned as to the leadership and direction of the fire service.”

Follow @HowardCohen on Twitter.

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