Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez arranged for a pay increase that took effect Monday, with his longtime salary of $150,000 set to increase about 67 percent to $250,000.
County commissioners authorized the new $250,000 salary when they approved the mayor’s proposed budget last month. Gimenez’s budget chief, Jennifer Moon, told commissioners before the Sept. 20 vote that “the mayor may opt to receive a salary up to that amount.” On Monday night, Gimenez issued a statement saying he would take the full $250,000.
Miami-Dade’s previous mayor, Carlos Alvarez, earned more than $320,000 a year in salary. The mayor’s office said the total package topped $360,000. Gimenez cut the office’s salary to about $150,000 when he was first elected in 2011 after pledging as a candidate to slash the position’s pay.
“After taking a $150,000 cut in compensation since 2011, and saving Miami-Dade County over $1 million in salary alone, I will be earning a salary of $250,000 a year starting Oct. 1,” Gimenez said. “I made a decision to reduce my salary and benefits by half when I was first elected mayor in 2011 during a tough economic time in which all employees had to face salary reductions. Today, after forgoing my full salary for seven years, our county’s economy is strong, and our efforts to tighten the belt have paid off.”
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Miami-Dade’s budget year begins on Oct. 1, so Monday was the first day for Gimenez’s new pay scale. After his proposed $7.8 billion budget for 2019 was approved, Gimenez said he may decide to give back a portion of his salary once the higher amount took effect.
The mayor winning board approval for a new pay level came nearly a year after he attempted to have the commission activate a compensation increase for him.
In December, Commissioner Dennis Moss proposed the mayor make just over $300,000 a year, a figure he said came from Gimenez. The full commission balked, voting to defer the item indefinitely.
The topic of the mayor’s compensation didn’t resurface until last month’s budget ordinances. The new pay plan for the mayor was attached to a sweeping ordinance that included operating budgets for much of county government. It passed on a 12-1 vote, with only Commissioner Joe Martinez objecting.
At $250,000, Gimenez would move from trailing the Top 400 list of the county’s best-paid employees to earning roughly what his appointed deputy mayors make each year. The longest serving deputy, Alina Hudak, earns about $274,000 a year and the newest hire, former Miami fire chief Maurice Kemp, earns roughly $230,000, according to county data.
Alvarez was the last mayor to serve with an appointed county manager serving as top administrator. Voters eliminated the position in a 2010 referendum, which took effect in 2012. Gimenez took office in the summer of 2011 in a special election called after voters recalled Alvarez, prompting the resignation of longtime manager George Burgess. Hudak briefly served as acting county manager, but Gimenez opted to leave the post vacant until it vanished under the charter change the next year.
In his statement, Gimenez described himself as holding two jobs as “a full-time strong mayor” and that, if the Burgess compensation is added in, he’d created “more than $4 million in savings to taxpayers as of today.”