The readers’ forum

Sharing financial pain in uncertain economic times

 

Recently the Miami-Dade County Commission voted 8 to 3 to eliminate a 5-percent salary reduction that our unions agreed to in 2010. According to the mayor, if it stands, the decision will create a $56 million budget deficit and potentially cause the layoffs of numerous county workers.

I voted against the measure because in my view, although we had a long debate, we had the wrong debate: Our choice shouldn’t have been simply between restoring funds to our hurting union workers or creating a budget deficit that the mayor says he will address by laying off county employees. Instead, the debate should have been about how we can expeditiously eliminate the 5-percent sacrifice made by the unions without having to pink-slip numerous county workers.

I believe that there are several ways to reach that goal, including reducing the union's 5-percent reduction in increments with a definitive end date, aggressively eliminating waste and costly services and protecting our trust funds and reserves in a manner that preserves a sound financial rating, a rating that could be in jeopardy as a result of this vote.

Putting this issue to an up-or-down vote ignored the importance of balancing the interests of our union workers with the needs of citizens that rely on services delivered by county workers. The salary cut the union employees agreed to in 2010 was intended to end this January based on economic projections — predictions that have not come to pass. Given our slow economic recovery, however, I reluctantly voted against an immediate full salary restoration, because doing all restoration immediately will create a significant budget deficit leading to layoffs that can adversely affect county services.

Under our strong-mayor form of government, the responsibility of how to address the $56 million deficit rests with the mayor. If the mayor vetoes the commission's decision as some anticipate, and the veto is not overridden, I would hope that he would carefully consider the multifaceted alternatives to re-balancing the budget. If the commission overturns the veto, we should all work to consider alternatives to an all-or-nothing veto showdown and the layoffs and reduction of services that an override would likely create.

The fact is that sharing financial pain is never popular, particularly when we ask union workers who have already endured financial sacrifice to wait even longer than they intended to have their salary restored. But given the prospect of a $56 million deficit, all stakeholders should carefully consider all options to prevent us from facing what can only be described as a short–sighted decision that shackles a future administration, commission and county budget. The citizens of our county deserve no less.

Sally Heyman, commissioner, Miami-Dade County

Read more Letters to the Editor stories from the Miami Herald

  • The readers’ forum

    Preliminary library tax rate must survive

    County commissioners praised the hundreds of residents who descended upon Government Center recently to plead for a $64 million library budget for the coming year. Commissioners settled on a less ambitious course, approving a slight increase above Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s recommended tax rate to avert further service cuts and layoffs of an additional 90 librarians.

  • A very liveable city

    Re the July 21 article Car-free and frustrated: I, too, live in Brickell and I have been delighted with the wonderful transportation system in downtown Miami. I can easily get to the University of Miami hospitals, the airport, the Arsht Center, the museums and hundreds of great restaurants. And when the new Brickell City Center opens, with its great shops, it will be even better. I almost never use my car.

  • Immigration reform

    Re the July 18 editorial, Follow the law: We should rescue some valid assertions. First, we all should know why so much insecurity exists in Central America.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category