On Tuesday, November 12, the Commissioners in Coral Gables will increase the membership of the City’s Pension Board from 9 to 13. It passed 5 - 0 on First Reading in September. The four additional members are the City's Finance Director, Human Resources Director, and two individuals appointed by the City Manager. So, what’s wrong with that?
Consider that of this potentially stacked 13-member board, City Manager “My Way or the Highway” Salerno really controls 9 votes (67%), the four new ones, and the four on the Commission. This Commission has slowing but surely allowed its Chief Administrative Officer to usurp its power as policy makers
Recently, the City Commission approved a hefty salary package increase to its highest paid employee. Taxpayers contributions to Salerno’s pension package went from 15% to 39% of his salary, and an additional 20 weeks of salary should he leave the city. And to add insult to stupidity, they made it retroactive to January 2013.
Meanwhile, lower tier employees are required to contribute 17% (used to be ~21%) of their salary in a cost-sharing agreement. At a recent impasse hearing, four employees, many of them working in the city over 10 years, shared that they had lost their homes, their savings, their marriages and some are going without the basics because of this contribution that’s automatically taken out of their paychecks. Employees don't matter in Coral Gables, they are just numbers on a spreadsheet. Meanwhile, the City sits on $20 million+ of reserve.
And now, the board that oversees pensions is in almost complete control by the de facto Mayor Pat Salerno of Coral Gables. Please don't be fooled residents of the City Beautiful; it’s Salerno you elected. The bobble heads on the dais say, "How high?" when he says, “Jump!”