The Miami Springs council meeting on Monday night, Oct. 13 was short on time but big on business. It was the first regular meeting of the new fiscal year and lasted just over an hour, but there was time to give City Manager Ron Gorland a Vote of Confidence, and sign the new police contract.
As required by the City Charter, the council must give the city manager a Vote of Confidence at the first meeting of the new year. There was little doubt that Ron Gorland would get the three votes needed to keep his job but he did even better.
“I gave you a ‘no’ vote last year but this time you will get my vote,” said Councilman Billy Bain. “Thank you for being able to handle me the way I am, although you are so even-keeled that sometimes I wish you would argue a little bit more with me.”
Councilman Michael Windrem thanked Gorland for his “open door policy”; Councilman Jaime Petralanda said, “There is always room for improvement but keep up the good work”; and Councilman George Lob simply stated, “You have my vote.”
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Just before the unanimous Vote of Confidence took place, Mayor Zavier Garcia had his say: “Ron does a good job of maintaining communication and what I like is that he is not a ‘yes man.’ You are great at balancing the issues and you have surrounded yourself with a phenomenal staff.”
Gorland was one of the main reasons the City of Miami Springs and Miami Springs police officers now have a new three-year contract. He and FOP Union leader Joe Puleo, who came on the scene just three months ago, hit the right chords and got the deal done.
The contract that fixes the police pension contributions at 16 percent for the first two years (15.5 percent the third year) had already been officially signed by all parties, but the “ceremonial” signing, picture taking, and applause were saved for Monday night.
Everyone who had been a part of the negotiating process was invited to the dais to be in the group photo, but the police officers in the room — Miami Springs union leaders Jorge Capote and Claire Gurney, along with Police Chief Pete Baan — declined to take part, despite the pleas of staff and council.
“It’s not the best contract, but it is a start,” Puleo said after the signing. “Our police officers now at least know their pensions are safe for the next three years.”
Garcia then chimed in, “We know our police officers are not 100 percent happy with this contract but they should know that as long as I am in this office, I will work hard to get more for our police officers.”
Gorland then blurted, “I think it’s time for applause!” The council, staff and most in attendance agreed as they stood and clapped for the end of a five-year period without a contract between Miami Springs and its police officers.
In other news, the council:
• Announced that the Grand Re-Opening of Stafford Park will take place at 6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 20. The celebration will include a ribbon cutting for not only the completed renovation of Stafford Park but also the signing of a new 10-year lease with the Miami-Dade School Board, for the continued use of the park by Miami Springs. The public is invited to attend this celebration next Monday at Stafford Park, located at 501 East Drive.
For information on other activities planned at the Stafford Park re-opening, call the Miami Springs Recreation Department at 305-805-5075.
• Set the date of Wednesday, Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. in council chambers for a Special Meeting for the presentation of the Design Criteria Package for the new Aquatic Center by the consulting firm Bermello Ajamil and Partners.
• Approved a 2 percent pay raise for all employees (excluding uniformed police officers and assistant department heads and above) as a result of the $41,000 in General Fund savings generated by the Aetna Health Insurance renewal.