City councillors would not rule out future emergency declarations, but they promised not to cut wages and benefits for the duration of the agreement. The City of Miami and its police union tentatively agreed Tuesday on a two-year contract that would give pay increases to public servants in 2014, while reducing the cost of the city`s creditworthy pensions. In addition, the department could buy new police cars next year. And public servants would no longer have to pay a fee per kilometre for their carpool cars. Despite the hole, the municipal commission opposed a tax increase. In July, the commissioners provisionally set the tax rate at US$8.47 for every $1,000 of taxable assets — a slight decrease from the previous year. The proposed contract has yet to be approved by union members and the municipal commission. It is likely that the Commission will discuss this issue at a closed-door executive meeting on Wednesday and again at the first public hearing on the budget on Thursday. The preliminary agreement, which would generate $11.5 million in savings for Miami, represents an important step forward in the city`s quest for balanced budgets by the end of the month.
A Miami-Dade judge overturned the city`s declaration of financial emergency in August, but the police union`s victory was short-lived. Last week, the third district appeals court quashed the first instance. The bulk of the savings would come from an accounting change that would change the calculation of the city`s pension obligation. In addition, new employees should cash in more for their pension plan. Although the contribution of current employees is 10 per cent, new employees are expected to contribute 13%. If approved, the new contract would grant a 3 per cent increase to police personnel in April 2014. Public servants have not received an increase since 2009. Their salaries were reduced the following year to balance the budget. Part of the language of the proposed contract was still being reviewed late Tuesday night by city pension experts, but trustees were confident the agreements were in place. After finishing with the police, the trustees were preparing to work late at night to draft a separate contract with the firefighters` union.
During Tuesday`s negotiations, union leaders asked city councillors not to declare a financial emergency in the future. “They all see it as an accounting maneuver, but it`s more than that,” FOP lawyer Ron Cohen said, comparing the action to “a blow to the stomach” that caused irreparable damage to labour relations.