Mayor Gimenez Is Still Receiving a Six-Figure Fire Pension While Axing Fire Services

Categories: News

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Lower-income areas are set to bear the brunt of Mayor Carlos Gimenez's recommendation to close 22 libraries and ax six fire trucks to fix a budget deficit. Those libraries are disproportionately in poor neighborhoods, and the six fire stations set to lose a truck include Florida City and Goulds -- two of Dade's lowest-income cities -- Fire Chief David Downey tells Riptide.

Gimenez opted for those cutbacks rather than raise property taxes or cut other obligations, such as pension plans. As a former City of Miami fire chief, he's still pulling in a six-figure pension.

"He's trying to keep the department and the county in as solid of a situation as possible," Fernando Figueredo, the director of communications for Miami-Dade County, says of Gimenez's proposed cuts. "Look at cities like Detroit that are going bankrupt."

When a candidate fills out qualifying documents for elected office, he or she must list all sources of income. Gimenez indicated three sources before he became mayor in 2011, which included his $126,810 annual pension from his nine years as fire chief in the City of Miami. That's nearly three times the amount he was paid as county commissioner, and it was his main source of income. (He now makes about $150,000 as mayor, which to be fair to Gimenez, is half what his predecessor, Carlos Alvarez, made in the job; Gimenez pledged to cut the salary by 50 percent after voters recalled Alvarez in 2011.)

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In an interview with Riptide, Downey says deciding which fire stations to cut services from wasn't an easy choice.

"It was a very tough decision, because we don't have any extra units, and everything we have is necessary," he says. "In fact, I was hoping to go into this budget adding services, because we still have areas that are underserved in Northeast Miami, North Miami, North Miami Beach, around Kendall Drive west of the Turnpike, and the Sweetwater area."

In addition to Goulds and Florida City, fire services will also be cut in Eastern Shores, Coconut Palm, Haulover Beach, and North Bay Village to help close a $15 million budget gap in the department.

Any cut reduces countywide response times, regardless of the stations targeted. "There's going to be six less units in our system, so that does translate into other units having to come over from their territories, which leaves those unprotected," Downey says.

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14 comments
jvossman
jvossman

The fact that he is getting this pension is not news.  And the salary he is getting as Mayor is close to bottom of barrel for cities Miami's size.  The fact that he can collect it while still working  is something he shares with thousands of government employees such as poilce and fire departments.  They negotiated this over the decades because they vote and are opinion leaders..  They have political power and they have used it to benefit their members. This is not necessarily bad and quite legal.  If anything, the fact that Jimenez has this built in pension might make him less beholden to political influences.  

jvossman
jvossman

The fact that he is getting this pension is not news.  And the salary he is getting as Mayor is close to bottom of barrel for cities Miami's size.  The fact that he can collect it while still working  is something he shares with thousands of government employees such as poilce and fire departments.  They negotiated this over the decades because they vote and are opinion leaders..  They have political power and they have used it to benefit their members. This is not necessarily bad and quite legal.  If anything, the fact that Jimenez has this built in pension might make him less beholden to political influences.  

internetinternet
internetinternet

Herald just reported the average county response time increased the past two years by 12 seconds, to eight minutes and 17 seconds.  The fire in a Miami Beach condominium unit killed two people that that city has it's own fire department less than ten blocks from the site.  Life savings come from having a properly operating detector.    I would recommend that people research "why Photoelectric Technology is Superior to Ionization Technology."  The lobbyists are not here to help you.  They are here to scare you. 

The_Dissenter
The_Dissenter

The pensions are taking from the budget what could be spent on better services and reduced tax rates.  It is time to move from pensions to 401-k's.  2.5 million Miami-Dade County residents should not be supporting 29,000 county employees to retire early and live high on the hog.

Carlos Gimenez is only 59 and and receiving a crap load of pension money.  He is not the person to lead pension reform when he is living quite nice on his pension and doing it at a much younger age than someone born of his generation. 

Can the New Times break down the budget to see what are the pension, health care and legacy benefits?


drakemallard
drakemallard topcommenter


We could solve a LOT of problems in this country if we just required that politicians live by the same rules as the rest of us.

Put THEM in 401-K's and Social Security for their retirement; put THEM in Medicare; have THEM follow the same "truth in advertising" laws businesses have to follow, let THEM pay for their own vacations instead of the taxpayers sending them on junkets; have THEM obey the law on discriminatory employment practices,Make Politicians Take a Pay Cut Before Cutting Money from Education and Social Services!

Hey they should   cut their own benefits and services. no more lifetime benefits
They should NOT be getting lifetime health coverage when they have the money to pay on their own!


Their pay should be whatever the median wage is in America for the previous year. If median wage goes down they take a pay cut, if median wage goes up, they get a raise. That way we know they will be working for us.


WhyNotNow
WhyNotNow topcommenter

Gimenez is a joke. This city and county continually recycles its employees. There are many that are doing this. I wish the new times would do an exposé. Meanwhile, the. Voters snooze.

internetinternet
internetinternet

EMT/Fire union is a lobbyist group.  Head of the largest lobbyist group is  your Mayor.  Good luck with that.  They certainly make for some good laughs. 

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

funny but under SECONDARY SOURCE(S) of income the applicant only need mention names and addresses and principal activity

so a BRIBE or KICK-BACK "amount" apparently doesn't need to be disclosed ?

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

well it's a good thing $562,ooo,ooo was spent on a desperately needed new baseball stadium instead of elementary school teachers, and now we don't really need libraries, and who's to argue with a veteran fire chief when he closes fire stations especially in poor areas whereas maybe if everything just burns down in those neighborhoods the trash will migrate away to burden some other municipality then developers could come in a build multi-million dollar condos and resorts on all that vacated land = it's called planned gentrification

hrdheddwoman
hrdheddwoman

@The_Dissenter Gimenez's pension comes from the City of Miami, not Miami-Dade County. Different Budgets. As far as county employees retiring and living "High on the Hog". When I retire, my "fat" pension will be a whopping 48% of what I make now. And when I retire....guess who pays for my healthcare, me, out of my "fat" pension. 

Dafactsrstubborn
Dafactsrstubborn

@frankd4 First, their may actually be no cuts to fire service.  The worst case scenario has already been cut in half.  The lower income areas have nothing to do with the decision if the remaining 3 units are cut (my guess is that no units will be cut, but, time will tell).  It has to do with balancing the units throughout the county based on historical needs assessments.  That is all math and statistics, that have nothing to do with income.

This is interesting, some have noted an exception with the Mayor's pension.   Well, lets think this through (I know some of you have problems with this, so bear with me).  His City of Miami pension that includes his time as a Fire Fighter, Fire Chief and City Manager is set at $126K.  Well, that is 80% of his best year at the City, meaning his high salary was about what he is getting paid now to manage a County that is literally 12 times the size of the City of Miami.  Also, if you look at the current median income of firefighters, it is close to $104K a year!  That is way too much.  And what happens, as those folks retire, pension obligations go through the roof.  There is a reason that seasoned fire professionals from other jurisdictions want to move to the County, they pay better.  Note, City of Hollywood pays first time fire fighters $35K a year, compared to Miami-Dade's $55K a year.  That needs to change, and the current crop of fire fighters should really think about what hornets nest they are walking into. 

The 40K from the county was the 6K the commissioners get a year and their benefits, including health care, car allowance, etc.  The Mayor does not receive a pension from his time on the Commission.

The Mayor also does not take a car allowance, like the last guy, doesn't have a motorcade where ever he goes (he drives himself almost exclusively).  He turned 12 Assistant County Managers, 1 Chief of Staff, 1 Planning Director, 1 Budget Director (15 total positions) and replaced those 15 people with 5 Deputy County Mayors, saving millions of dollars.  Oh, and he now has both hats, Mayor and Manager.  Before the current Mayor, Alvarez and Burgess were taking home a combined $800K.  But, unfortunately, facts get in the way of a good story.........

The_Dissenter
The_Dissenter

@hrdheddwoman @The_Dissenter   But, he is receiving $43,250 from the county and will be accruing more pension credits as Mayor of the county.  If you retire at 65, are you not entitled to medicare?

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

@Dafactsrstubborn @frankd4 

well back in the day these positions were held by very experienced and post-retired individuals who filled them gratis - or the more typical one dollar a year type thing - because it wasn't what they COULD SUCK OUT of the community treasury based on previous service BUT what they intended to PUT BACK INTO the community based on their dedication and legacy for the future of that community

today it's not that this person isn't due this money it's can the community AFFORD it going forward or else you are heading towards another DETROIT 

CARLOS GIMENEZ may be owed it but the community cannot pay it

i remember doing the audit for the administrator of FIRE DEPT benefits and the saying back then was "you could never do enough for the FIRE DEPT unionized employees" and so yes you get them making $104,ooo or MORE much more with overtime and such - again they are owed it but the community cannot afford it (somehow i remember the assessment on the premiums from property insurance in the area being part of the revenue source for the chapter 185 retirement plan)

wouldn't it be nice if the school system could HIRE professors from HARVARD and MIT and STANFORD to teach here at those astronomical salaries ! ? !

to bad JORGE MAS CANOSA died so young or he would have taken this J O B for free - maybe one of the FANJULs could step in and give back to south florida for FREE

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