Sunday, July 27, 2014

Lynda Bell: Blame It On The Help! By Geniusofdespair

Lynda Bell, Not Pointing Her Finger In a Photo For Once.

No it is not all the Museums and Sports Stadiums we are subsidizing (and  giving expensive free land to). Nor is it all the other ridiculous programs funded by commissioners to get reelected. It is not all the Bonds we are paying interest on. It is not all the people making $30,000 (that Lynda Bell constantly brings up, no matter that a family of 4 can't survive on that) that we are subsidizing with their housing (affordable housing is expensive) and other living expenses, it is not the poor management, or the drop in property taxes or constant perks we give to developers nor is it the infrastructure costs that are piled high on the books. There is plenty of blame to go around.

According to Miami Dade County Commissioner Lynda Bell, it is the County staff. Lynda Bell is blaming them for our budget woes, the ones who trusted the county brass and made concessions. Concessions that were promised would be returned to them at a specified time and weren't. She doesn't mention the grants she has received at the County's expense. We paid for those. She doesn't mention her daughter is employed by the county, we pay for her. Anyway: here is her rambling take on this year's budget - in her mind, it is all the underlings fault. Sad.

Statement from Lynda Bell on the budget: (or Blame it on labor unions because they aren't supporting her)
As a resident Miami-Dade County, I highly value our county family of employees and greatly appreciate their service to our community. Elected to serve as a commissioner to look after the best interest of this county, it is not lost on me that all salaries and benefits are paid by taxpayers. In fact, last year when I voted to hold the line and not raise taxes, I knew that returning the full five percent would result in layoffs and service reductions. That was simply unacceptable.

It’s important to note that, when it comes to actual compensation, residents have not been told the whole story. A considerable portion of their taxes are going to pay for salary supplements and excessive benefits – not services. In the upcoming budget year, $113 million of extra benefits are slated to “snap back.” These supplements do not buy you a single extra service; in fact, they will result in a reduction of services.

As the County faces a significant budget gap, thousands of employees receive additional pay supplements designed to increase salaries by up to 45%, resulting in inflated and unsustainable adjusted pay salaries. The current County pay plan defines 187 pay supplements in addition to an employees’ base salary and benefits. These redundant supplements include pay for just showing up to work, first responder pay for the first responders, and extra benefits for simply performing the job they were hired to do.

For example, one of Miami-Dade County’s top paid employees earns over $210,000, enjoying seven supplemental pay adjustments, increasing his salary by a whopping 38% in addition to a $225 bi-weekly incentive. (GENIUS HERE: HOW ABOUT TAKING A LOOK AT THE LAWYERS AND WHILE YOU ARE AT IT, THE STAFF OF GIMENEZ).

With some employees collecting upwards of ten pay supplements, how can any public servant in good conscience propose laying off police officers or fire fighters who are on the front-lines saving lives when there are so many, who through the years, have accumulated layers of extra pay resulting in six figure salaries? The public needs to know that by eliminating supplemental payments and excessive benefits, we will unencumber approximately $230 million, more than enough to cover the current service level gap, avoid reduction in positions, and properly fund our Miami-Dade County Public Library System in its entirety.

Taxpayers should ask themselves if the County should be paying up to seven levels of “career development” supplements to reward employees for knowing how to perform their job. Is it not ironic that the County awards certain employees with an incentive just for showing up for work?

Total supplemental payments have increased by nearly $13 million over the last three years alone. Additionally, in the last 12 years every bargaining unit’s salary has increased between 59% and 120%.

We must put an end to the culture of entitlement created by labor leaders. If we truly hope to find a long-term solution to Miami-Dade County’s budget woes public servants should be treated no differently than any other hard working taxpayer who receives a well-earned salary and benefits. No more no less.

Now, as we all know, labor negotiations have trapped Miami-Dade County residents in the center of an abrasive budget battle between union representatives who are calling for an increase in property taxes versus those of us who refuse to raise taxes on residents who can ill afford them, as a result of the weak economy.

Union representatives must bear in mind that their members will be adversely affected, as well as the same community they swore to serve. This intransigence serves no one. However, by coming to the negotiating table, they can be part of the solution. They hold the key in becoming part of a better, stronger and greater Miami-Dade County.

Lynda Bell
Miami-Dade County Commissioner

Most Union workers are hard working, self supporting, good citizens. I can't for the life of me understand singling out a few and painting all union workers with the same brush. It is so unfair and unseemly. (Like the welfare mom driving a Cadillac drivel). Could Lynda's husband even get in a union? He was not a licensed plumber? As a former domestic worker with a large family and her husband working as an assistant plumber, you would think she would have more empathy for those trying to make ends meet and that promises made by the county to their staff, should be promises kept.

I suspect all the County Attorney's make more than $100,000 a year.


Anonymous said...

One of the reason salaries are high, they won't fill positions so there is a lot of overtime in the County.

Gabe from your district said...

Hate to tell you Lynda: The economy is not weak. Only the County is under that illusion.

Jose said...

County workers are the highest paid in our community and yet they still cry poverty and demand more. 4,132 made over $100k last year. Greedy. Greedy. Greedy.

Anonymous said...

How much is her supplemental payment?
She is paid $6,000 a year as a county commissioner but made $50,000 last year!!!
That's something like 800%!!!
That's a lot more than whopping 38% she's talking about.
Time to go ring her Bell.

The smarter Jose said...

Jose: That is about 10% of the workforce isn't it. All the Lawyers make more and all the management. What are the the other 90% making?

Anonymous said...

How much does your daughter make from the County Lynda? What about Johanna Faddis (who tried to sue the City of Homestead for sexual harrassment but was instead was convicted as liar) who you brought with you from Homestead? How much is she making? What is good for the goose is good for the gander. You should have fired her when she was convicted.

Anonymous said...

Top Librarians have more education than the lawyers but make less.

Anonymous said...

Yes Lynda you talk about an employee that made $210,000 a year. Why don't you talk about Jack Osterholt who made $251,621 in 2013? Or R. A. Cuevas, Jr. Attorney who made $377,317 last year.

Leida Cuevas, no relation, a court records specialist, made $37,303.03.

Anonymous said...

County and City employees make 15% to 80% more than their private sector competitors. And the benefits! Nobody in the private sector gets a Defined Benefit Pension Plan. Public sector employees are overpaid.

Anonymous said...

Check out the salaries of the top-heavy administration at WASD! That's just one of the problems Bell is taking about!

Claudia said...

I like that she is a watchdog on bloated employee salaries. You are barking up the wrong tree on this one.

Anonymous said...

Lynda is an opportunist who is desperately seeking to differentiate herself from Daniella, her political opponent. This is the easy, sleazy path that aligns herself with her mentor, Carlos. It's textbook. Although she only mastered the Cliffnotes version.

Anonymous said...

To remain a desirable community for economic investment, tax policies must be thoughtful, deliberate and defensible. Tax policy should not be set during the heat of a political campaign. Two years ago, the bumper-sticker pledge to repeal tax rates, while property values were still dropping, led to a $200-million loss in funding for county services.

While the stockholders of FP&L, the largest property owner in Miami-Dade County, surely appreciated the windfall tax break of more than $6 million in 2011, our electric bills did not go down. Landlords in Miami-Dade may still be smiling from their unexpected profits. Rents were not lowered after the 2011 tax break. Since the tax break, the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Miami-Dade County has steadily increased, from $1,386 in August 2011 to $1,613 in May 2013 (Reinhold P. Wolff Economic Research, Inc.).

For the working people of Miami-Dade County, the $200-million tax break of 2011 has meant a reduction in public services, an increase in service fees and no relief in rents or utility bills. What happened?

According to the Florida Department of Revenue, the owners of homestead residential property in Miami-Dade County pay 27.2 percent of the property taxes. What does that mean? For every $1 of county property tax paid by a local homeowner, other property owners pay another $2.68. In effect, any increase in property tax rates for a homeowner in Miami-Dade County leverages a substantially greater contribution from the snowbirds, foreign investors, national retail chains and corporations that pay the bulk of the property tax bill. Conversely, a tax rate reduction provides greater monetary relief for nonhomestead property owners. For every $1 reduction in a homeowner’s tax bill, the county forfeits $3.68 in revenues. A lot of that money simply leaves town.

There are numerous economic-development arguments for keeping property taxes low. But, from a community perspective, a decision to lower property taxes, with commensurate service cuts and fee increases for the residents, is self-defeating. And what business wants to locate to a community that closes libraries, cuts fire services or routinely kills stray pets?

Read more here:

Anonymous said...

Hi Claudia,

I, too, would like that she is a watchdog on bloated employee salaries. And I work for the county. But, she's railroading us. Her words are meant to start a witch hunt.

My "bloated" five figure salary is the result of 25+ years of service. When I bail, there will be a difference in the quality of service provided. It's the difference between employing someone who is invested in this place and loves helping the customer versus the part-timer with no benefits who'll be brought in to replace me.

Lynda Bell is attacking the front line staff that are unionized. Where's her stump speech on the exempt administration? The smiling lawyers in the photo are just one example.

Hellfire and brimstone on union workers with a free pass to upper echelon.

Also, thanks Lynda for not making YOUR staff pay the 5% medical fee. I did. Over $4,500 each year for four years, even if i chose to use my wife's company's plan.

Anonymous said...

Check out the salaries of the top-heavy administration at WASD! That's just one of the problems Bell is taking about!

Not really since they are not in the union. So how is Lynda solving the problem?

Geniusofdespair said...

Claudia: Do you like that she has $25,000 of your tax money to paint her hotel?

Do you like that developers get sweetheart deals? You are drinking the kool aide. I suppose you believe anything as long as they say lower taxes. So they raise your stormwater, fire, garbage fee instead? I bet you voted for every last one of those bond issues. You are thinking small and doing yourself an injustice in this shell game they are playing. Opps another bond issue for Overtown in the paper today.....

Anyway I know you are a bell plant as they always say thhe same exact thing....

Anonymous said...

County and City employees make 15% to 80% more than their private sector competitors. And the benefits! Nobody in the private sector gets a Defined Benefit Pension Plan. Public sector employees are overpaid.

Examples please. Your broad generalizations don't work.

So a Defined Benefit Pension Plan is evil? Actually it spells out exactly the expectations, and the costs are transparent. AND, as seen in recent negotiations, it can be modified and reduced by an understanding union membership who agreed to reductions due to the economic recession in 2011, along with officials who change the plan (such as DROP) midway into an employee's career.

Just reduce the benefits to rival WalMart. Your cut rate paramedic and police officer and librarian will give you that discounted, low ball service you want.

Anonymous said...

Wait until the 2020's in Miami-Dade. It'll be the mop up years where big bills will hit home since Gimenez refuses to support resident services.

Anonymous said...

County workers who earn a paycheck, actually spend the money on groceries, gasoline, transit, household expenses. The money is injected back into our neighborhoods.

Laid off employees drain the state unemployment fund.

As long as the appearance of smaller county government can be used for a political advertisement, Gimenez and Bell chose to hurt people to make it seem that they created "sustainable efficiencies." In reality, they just create a bigger problem.

How long can the county function with employees chipped away without any vision or overall plan.? Just the use of the word "vision", the word "efficient", the word "sustainable" doesn't cut it.

Time to look in a thesaurus for a set of new vague terms.

miaexile said...

the majority of public sector workers ARE NOT paid more than if they were in the private sector. This is Republican hogwash that is simply not true.

Anonymous said...

So, if the great county pay and hefty benefits from the county along with the sing-song breezy working conditions are so compelling, what's the reason that Chip Iglesias and Lisa Martinez jumped ship?

Anonymous said...

Gimenez's nasty streak

Anonymous said...

Going forward payroll and incentives have to change. Implementing incentive pay is good for everyone, however the current time worked incentives lead to complacency and non-productivity. Bell should articulate that as her position and put some heat on both the administration and the unions, by choosing sides she is alienating the workers. Alienate the union bosses and administration is the better strategy by offering performance based incentives, the workers would then be in control of their own salary increases and the taxpayers would benefit from higher efficiency.

KC said...

I suspect Chip Iglesias and Lisa Martinez were pushed out the door. Almost no one leaves the hefty paychecks at the county voluntarily. The pay is ridiculously high there and you need to know someone to get hired.

Anonymous said...

Hire me! Hire me!

Anonymous said...

It is time the citizens of Miami-Dade SET A SALARY CAP to ALL public servant jobs. If one want to serve one's fellow man (and with their money!) then one must be willing to earn less than at a private, for-profit business, BECAUSE it is the public's money that is paying your salary!! Let's do something to assure that our pooled money (the county budget)gets used wisely and frugally, so that we can ALL benefit from the services we all need.

Anonymous said...

I'm in the union, I'm capped. I'm a citizen. I'm a tax payer . You'll miss me when I'm gone.

Anonymous said...

If the public ever realizes the waste that takes place in the County, they will be out with pitchforks and torches!

Anonymous said...

Workers who come from the private sector are always amazed when they start working for the County.
On the other hand, people used to being MD County employees, don't last a month in the public sector.

Anonymous said...

Make some more generalizations why don't you.

Anonymous said...

A county job can be very cushy, if you work at the top. Six figure salaries, great bennies and little oversight.

Work at the bottom like mowing grass, your pay scale is held in check by the constant use of outside contrators.

Ironiclly due to the county living wage ordinance (mandated minimum wage of about $14/hr from which the county exempts itself) many county workers actually make less than the contractor counterparts who take their jobs.

The reason contractors can pay more an cost less? In the grass mowing example the county figures its cost per acre to mow include ridiculous mandated county overhead like the six figure bureaucrats,
Doubly Ironic, bureaucrats stay in place even when the service let out to the contractors.

But let's not bother Lynda with ALL the facts, it ruins her myopic narrative

Most important how does cutting all employees pat fix her structural issue of decades of pay supplements (which guys mowning grass have never seen)
And why has she apparently just discovered this problem in an election year?

Anonymous said...

The lady who cleans a 15,000 sq ft public bldg, through a county contracted vendor, gets $30 for two hours per night. I'm sure if you explain to her that public service means she should be grateful and she should give up say an extra 5%, she will gladly do so. Her 18 year old car still works so the bus increases won't affect her.

Anonymous said...

Please look up the Director, Deputy Dir. and several Asst. Directors from WASD who all recently retired. Check out the thousands they each took with them. None had ever been sick or taken vacation in all the years at the County.

As long as we continue to allow this farce, millages and taxes will have to increase to afford the lifestyles of these bureaucrats.

Anonymous said...

The benefit plans for the top tier public employees and even mid tier are not sustainable in all departments, including police & fire. In the private sector, how many receive A+ health plans and pension plans? Not too many. I do not believe our County has those types of workers with those types of skills in the first place. Let's start with the benefit packages for cuts because they are not at par with the majority of the public sector picking up the bill. I also want to go back to all Miami Dade public employees have to live in Miami Dade. Let them spend their income here, not in Broward or Naples or Palm Beach! In the Herald today, it is reported that there are a glut of new attorneys looking for work. Perhaps some more entry level work for those new people with energy willing to work for the people and a reduction at the top in that department.

There is so much wrong within this County budget and it start on the 29th floor, the Port & the WASD. Let's clean house there first.

Then, let's put all the money back that Gimenez squeezed out of our Library for over market rent of their own facility and stop toying with the one special taxing district the voters overwhelminging wanted fully funded but his staff found a way to use their what used to be a surplus and move it to the general fund.

Stopping the shell game shuffling will also be very helpful. Oh, wait. I live in Miami. The entire brain trust of our elected officials is less then the size of a gnat when it comes to real public service and doing what's right for the community.

Anonymous said...

Bell should talk about all the perks her and her family members have gotten throughout the years that has cost taxppayers

Anonymous said...

Nepotism - at all levels of County employment!

Anonymous said...

Ms. Bell needs to go. Her Tea Party philosophy is destroying county morale. I hope that the voters of District 8 see that she is damaging their quality of life, while improving her own. That is not what a public servant should be doing. She does NOT DELIVER EXCELLENCE EVERY DAY!

Anonymous said...

" In the private sector, how many receive A+ health plans and pension plans?"

Therefore, make sure everyone hits retirement age near poverty level. Except a mayor who has two from city work, his wife's from county work. How convenient?

Let's see, Baptist Health System, nonprofit, with an A+ health plan and pension plan.

Aspire high, get quality.