Coral Gables

Coral Gables

Coral Gables employees to get one time bonus

The Coral Gables City Commission approved a two-year contract with the city’s general employees union Tuesday that includes a one-time bonus and lower pension contributions from employees during the first year, but no across-the-board raises.

After about three months of negotiations, the city has a new collective bargaining agreement with a local Teamsters union that represents 293 city employees. They do not include police officers and firefighters, who have separate unions.

Under the agreement, which is retroactive to Oct. 1, 2013, and lasts until Sept. 30, 2015, workers will get a one-time 2 percent bonus in October, and the city will provide more loyalty pay at 25 years of service.

Employees will also pay less into their pension fund during the first year of the agreement, down to 15 percent of their wages from 24 percent, and the city will pick up the full health insurance contribution this year, which is $712.01 per employee.

Mike Scott, president of the Teamsters local, said Tuesday the agreement is a step in the right direction, but there will be additional issues to address next time.

“These employees need a raise,” he said. “This is just a one-time bonus.”

In other business Tuesday, commissioners decided to push back the time line for the planned downtown streetscape project on Miracle Mile and Giralda Avenue. To allow more time for input from business owners and the public, the commission delayed a public hearing and final vote on the financing plan from July to August.

The cost of the long-discussed project, which would include street resurfacing, trees, signs, a fountain and other aesthetic improvements, is proposed to be split 50-50 between the city and property owners affected by the work. Owners of properties along the improved streets and adjacent properties would pay a special assessment tax.

Marina Foglia, executive director of the Business Improvement District, urged the commission to hold a workshop meeting so everyone can look at a conceptual plan and understand how the special assessment tax would work.

“We want to know exactly what the plan is,” he said.

Vice Mayor Bill Kerdyk Jr. echoed Foglia, saying that even though the streetscape project has been in discussion for about 20 years, there still needs to be as much input from business owners as possible.

“I don’t want to delay it any more,” he said. “But I want to go through this process.”

Foglia told the commission the Business Improvement District has some suggestions for how to find more funding for its half of the project’s cost, including increasing parking meter rates by up to 50 cents per hour, looking for grants, and widening the area that would pay the tax.

“These are just suggestions,” Foglia said.

A workshop will be scheduled before the August commission meeting.

Follow @joeflech on Twitter.

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