Miami-Dade County

Miami-Dade 500: The best-paid workers in county government


Miami-Dade County’s official law firm remains a lucrative place for government work.

The County Attorney’s Office holds 15 of the Top 20 slots in the Miami-Dade 500, Dade Data’s ranking of the best-paid workers on the county payroll. Topping the list: Cynthia Johnson-Stacks, a veteran county attorney. She earned $379,595 in 2014, according to the county’s online payroll database.

That put her slightly ahead of her superiors. Robert Cuevas, the outgoing head of the County Attorney’s Office, secured the No. 2 slot with 2014 compensation of $352,871. Cueva’s deputy, Abigail Price-Williams, took third place, by earning $323,309 last year. Price-Williams is being promoted to replace Cuevas once he retires in the fall.

This is Dade Data’s second year crunching the numbers from Miami-Dade’s payroll database, which is available to the public by clicking here. Always a sensitive topic, government pay promises to get even more attention this summer as county leaders enter the budget-making season for a roughly $6 billion government.

In 2014, total payroll equaled $1.7 billion for about 27,700 people listed on the county database, according to our analysis. That’s nearly $5 million per day. The median yearly compensation for 2014: $60,272.60.

Though the County Attorney’s Office dominates the Top 20, Miami-Dade’s biggest agency, the police department, has the largest footprint on the entire list. Police account for 30 percent of the slots on the Miami-Dade 500, with 147 entries. Second place goes to Fire Rescue, with 137 slots. The County Attorney’s Office takes third with 42 slots in all.

Three things to keep in mind for the Miami-Dade 500:

▪ Employees of Miami-Dade’s Jackson hospital system aren’t listed. Though Miami-Dade controls Jackson and taxpayers subsidize it, the county doesn’t administer the public hospital’s payroll. As a result, Jackson employees aren’t included in the county payroll database we use for the Miami-Dade 500. Senior Jackson executives make far more than the top tier of the Miami-Dade 500. Jackson CEO Carlos Migoya’s base salary was $590,000 last year, according to hospital data, and he’s getting a raise to $730,000.

Neither of those figures include bonuses, which last year bumped Migoya’s total pay to $937,000, according to a report issued this week by Jackson as part of a contract vote.

▪ County police officers and firefighters get paid for off-duty work through their county paychecks, with Miami-Dade collecting some of the fees to cover administrative costs.

▪ The compensation data can be skewed when an employee leaves county government and receives a significant payout of unused leave or deferred retirement earnings. Our Miami-Dade 500 doesn’t count any employee whose final paycheck of the year accounts for more than 10 percent of their annual pay.

But we don’t ignore those workers entirely. There are 53 people who earned enough in 2014 to make the Miami-Dade 500, but were bumped off the list for having an outsized final paycheck. We listed all 53 at the bottom of the list. If you want to see a ranking based solely on 2014 compensation, just click that column in our chart.

As we note below, the 2014 compensation totals can be be skewed by people entering the county’s deferred-retirement program as well as when they exit it as a fully retired employee. There are some payments an employee receives at the start of what can be a five-year retirement deferral, and those amounts are inflating some compensation figures of people in our Miami-Dade 500 list.That includes the top person on the list.

For Johnson-Stacks, her time atop the Miami-Dade 500 is probably temporary. Miami-Dade commissioners granted Price-Williams a $367,000 compensation package for her pending promotion to the run the 120-person County Attorney’s Office. Johnson-Stacks is one of the office’s senior attorneys, and oversees lawyers assigned to Jackson and the county’s social-services and housing arms.

An administration official said Johnson-Stack’s 2014 compensation jumped after she joined the county’s deferred-retirement program, which lets employees start accumulating pension payments while working up to five more years. Employees can also cash in up to 500 hours of unused annual-leave time when they enter the program, which is known as DROP.

Dade Data is an online series that examines the numbers driving Miami-Dade County government.

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