|Mayor Carlos Gimenez is not quite hearing the unions, balancing the budget on their backs.|
Mayor Gimenez is trying to take 5% of our wages as a permanent source of revenues for the county. Four years ago, when the bottom dropped out of the local economy, the employees of the county agreed to contribute 5% of their wages to help the community get through a rough spot. In our collective bargaining contract, it says the contributions will end on January 1, 2014. Now, Gimenez wants us to keep giving up our wages - supposedly for the health care coverage - that we already pay a hefty amount for.
One of my co-workers is earning $48,560 a year after 19 years on the job! She pays $287.77 for family coverage every two weeks, and "contributes" another $93.38 from every paycheck to the Gimenez's Healthcare Surplus Fund. That is $381.15 every two weeks. Who do you know that works for an employer that offers health benefits that has to pay $9,910 a year for their family health coverage? That is 20% of her income for insurance before adding in the co-pays and deductibles she has to pay every time a family member goes to the doctor and fills a prescription.
The Kaiser Family Foundation did a national survey and found that employees across the United States pay about 29% of the premiums for family health coverage. This is the average contribution paid by employees working for large companies with at least 200 employees. Well, Miami-Dade County has about 25,000 employees and an employee that has family coverage through the County pays 39% of the premium. We are already paying more than most workers in the United States for our family coverage. Then, on top of that, Gimenez wants us to contribute 5% of every dollar we make to supposedly pay for healthcare.
Most of the money Gimenez has been taking has been piling up in an Insurance account he controls. There was $89 million of surplus sitting there last year, and we have seen reports that the surplus is now over $120 million. He is taking 5% of our wages and putting it in a surplus account. Who knows why he is so fixated on having that surplus?
I hope the Commissioners tell Gimenez that if he can't balance the budget without taking money out of our pockets, then he needs to find a new line of work. Next time we need to elect a Mayor who knows how to run things, not ruin things. The Commission meeting is this Thursday, December 5th at 9:30 A.M. in the Chambers.