The Real Deal Miami

City contracts negotiated during boom, come back to haunt Miami

September 21, 2011 04:30PM

One out of every six Miami employees, mostly police or firefighters, earned more than $100,000 last year, largely from overtime, special assignment pay, unused sick days and other benefits. According to the Miami Herald, this is just one example of how labor costs comprise 90 percent of the city’s everyday expenses in its 2011 operating budget.

Those contracts were negotiated by unions emboldened by the immensity of the South Florida real estate boom. Police and firefighters were largely able to get what they wanted, in part, experts say, because of the political danger politicians faced by quarreling with those departments. Now that the bubble burst, and the city is struggling, those city contracts appear to be gross overpayments.

“Had I known what I know now, it would have been a different vote,” said then-City Commissioner Tomas Regalado, who supported the contracts and helped push up employee costs. [Miami Herald]