Miami-Dade County

Pay-cap proposal for Miami-Dade workers gets hearing Wednesday

Miami-Dade Commissioner Xavier Suarez talks to the Miami Herald Editorial Board in this file photo taken July 14, 2014.
Miami-Dade Commissioner Xavier Suarez talks to the Miami Herald Editorial Board in this file photo taken July 14, 2014. Jose A. Iglesias

A Miami-Dade commissioner’s plan to cap county pay below $163,000 is scheduled for a public hearing Wednesday.

Commissioner Xavier Suarez recently launched a petition drive to mandate that county salaries not exceed the compensation paid justices on the Florida Supreme Court (who currently earn $162,200). Suarez would implement the cap through a ballot item, and by July he needs signatures from 4 percent of Miami-Dade‘s 1.37 million registered voters. That’s about 55,000 signatures — roughly 3,200 a week.

Suarez’s first chance at demonstrating a groundswell of support comes during Wednesday’s hearing at the regular County Commission meeting. His proposal would mean drastic pay cuts for some of the county’s best-paid employees; more than 100 county workers were listed as earning more than $170,000 in 2013. Suarez’s proposed ordinance also would exempt three elected officials (county mayor, property appraiser and clerk of the court) as well as the county attorney.

County rules require a hearing after a petition drive is launched, and members of the public will have two minutes to speak on Suarez’s proposal Wednesday. The meeting at the Stephen P. Clark Government Center, at 111 NW 1st St., Miami, is scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m. The hearing was not given a specific start time on the agenda.

If Suarez can gather enough signatures, his proposed ordinance would go before voters in the August 2016 primary — unless the County Commission opts to enact the ordinance on its own.

Suarez plans to be on the ballot in August, too: either as a candidate for reelection or as a challenger to Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez. The former Miami mayor said he will decide later this year whether to make a bid for the county’s top job.

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