Miamidade Commission Defeats Measure That Would Have Mandated Mayor Be Highest Paid
Written by Risa Polansky on December 3, 2009
By Risa Polansky
Miami-Dade’s mayor may be top dog, but that doesn’t mean he should get the top paycheck, commissioners said Tuesday.
They killed a proposal that would have kept any future employee from making more than the mayor, contending that staffers with high-level degrees and tailored expertise come with a price.
"There’s a difference between someone running for office and hiring a professional," Joe Martinez said, insisting administrators should be compensated for their experience. "I don’t think that the mayor should be the highest paid when certain qualifications are not taken into consideration."
Audrey Edmonson said the same.
"The mayor’s position is an elected position, and we’re putting it right there with the hiring of professional staff," she said. If Miami-Dade wants to attract the best and brightest, "we cannot put that type of cap on staff."
But "the mayor is the chief executive officer," countered Carlos Gimenez, who sponsored the measure. "Everybody reports to the mayor."
And if the mayor wanted to hire someone at a higher salary, the legislation would allow him or her to make the case to commissioners, who would have the final say, Mr. Gimenez noted.
Still, the commission resisted.
Barbara Jordan said that current Mayor Carlos Alvarez, a nearly 30-year county employee and former police director, "is being paid based on his reputation, his experience, his prior knowledge and the growth of that salary over time."
A future mayor, depending on experience, may not merit the same salary as Mr. Alvarez, she said.
But, Mr. Gimenez pointed out, regardless of who is elected down the line, that person will have the same responsibilities as this mayor, "no more, no less."
He found support only from Javier Souto, who voted yes on the principle of reining in county salaries in general.
"Government isn’t for making money, government is for giving service to the people," Mr. Souto said. "I think it’s wrong to pay such enormous amounts of money."