City of Miami Springs facing staff reduction situation

The city of Miami Springs has released a list of 24 of its 119 full-time employees who are planning to retire.

    The Deferred Retirement Option Program, or DROP, allows employees to technically retire but continue working while banking their pension.

    And they have banked like squirrels. The annual pension benefit for 24 listed employees will total a little more than $1.1 million, records show.

    The yearly total might have been higher, but for some of the employees choosing “survivor benefits.”

    “If the retiree dies, the wife will continue to receive the benefit,” said Finance Director William Alonso. “This option results in a lower monthly retirement payment.”

    For example, Pete Baan has selected a survivor benefit that will reduce his pension benefit to about $11,000 per month, according to the city.

    “These runaway pensions are a major issue that has to be addressed in the upcoming budget season,” said Mel Johnson, a former council candidate. “If not, it is a dereliction of duty by our city leaders.”

    Aside from the pensions, Johnson questions whether the city has a viable succession plan in place other than hiring the same employee back at an hourly rate while they collect a “fat” pension.

    Johnson pointed to City Clerk Magali Valls, who will retire on July 25 and start work again the next day earning $50 an hour. which works out to $76,700 per year, while she draws her $4,065.25 a month for life.

    Though Deputy City Clerk Suzanne Hitaffer would be the “lead candidate” for Valls’ seat, according to City Manager Ron Gorland, she has “just a little over two years left as an employee.”

    Hitaffer, who earns $67,167 annually, is in the DROP and has an exit date of April 30, 2016.

    “It would be unnecessarily disruptive to make another city clerk change in such a short period,” Gorland told leaders at a June 10 city council meeting.

    Hitaffer, like the other 22 employees in the DROP, can leave at any time. Valls chose to leave three years before her official exit date, which caught the city off guard.

    However, Gorland insists that he has been “deep into succession planning” since becoming city manager last year.

    “You’ve already seen some of the results and will see more over time,” Gorland wrote in an e-mail to the Gazette.  “The DROP timeline provides ample opportunity for our succession planning to achieve our target, which is a new, streamlined cadre of hungry, results-oriented managers combining the best practices of government and the private sector.

    “Our Miami Springs residents, property owners, business operators and city employees deserve no less.”


Here are the names and exit dates of civilian employees, according to records obtained by the Gazette.

         Name                           Exit date

  1.    Rene Alonso               10/31/2015

  2.    Linda Bosque              03/30/2014

  3.    Loretta Boucher           07/31/2016

  4.    Angel Casas                09/30/2016

  5.    Joyce Cox                    06/30/2016

  6.    Carol Foster                 01/31/2018

  7.    Rosita Hernandez        01/31/2017

  8.    Suzanne Hitaffer          04/30/2016

  9.    Allene Paz                   12/31/2017

10.     Moira Ramos              08/31/2016

11.    Barbara Robinson       05/31/2016

12.    Magali Valls                 06/30/2016

13.    Florentino Vasallo       03/30/2017

Members of the police department with exit dates include:

         Name                          Exit date

  1.    Pete Baan                   12/31/2014

  2.    Jerry Balester              05/31/2016

  3.    Raymond Buckner       02/29/2017

  4.    Steven Carlisle            01/31/2014

  5.    Jeffrey Clark                03/30/2017

  6.    Jon Kahn                     12/31/2015

  7.    Thomas Kelly               08/31/2016

  8.    Harry Mayer                 09/30/2015

  9.    Charlene Navarro        09/30/2017

10.    James Pessolano        10/31/2015

11.    Randall Walker            12/31/2015