Miami Gets Concessions From Police Union, Finalizes 2012 Budget

MIAMI, FL &#8211 After a marathon session that was both contentious and bizarre, the Miami City Council signed off on a $479 million budget plan for 2012. The last minute deal was approved at 3:23 a.m. Wednesday by a vote of 3-2. According to the Miami Herald, the two dissenting members “voted against the measure, in large part they said, because the budget numbers changed so often, they couldn’t get a good handle on exactly what they were voting for.”

One of the final sticking points was the contract with the city police officers. The police union wanted a three-year deal and the city was pushing for a one-year agreement. The city won the battle in the end.

The agreement with the city’s Fraternal Order of Police — which allowed commissioners to avoid searching for drastic cuts Tuesday — was a last-minute deal negotiated upstairs at City Hall in the manager’s conference room. The city was able to force the hand of all four unions by invoking a state statute that gave commissioners the power to unilaterally rework contracts during a financial crisis.

The agreement with police left FOP President Armando Aguilar, who departed prior to the budget hearing, perturbed.

“They made something bad, horrible,” said Aguilar, who wanted a three-year deal that included the ability to promote staff members to several more captain positions.

In all, the agreements with the city’s unions cut the deficit by more than $22 million. The police deal, through a combination of cuts in pay and healthcare benefits, means a saving of $12 million. Firefighters agreed to $8.5 million in savings, mostly through pension cuts, and sanitation and general employees will take three furlough days that will save the city an additional $2 million.

Last year, when the city couldn’t come to terms with its unions, commissioners invoked financial urgency and slashed union contracts by $80 million.

To cover the rest of the deficit, commissioners accepted Regalado’s plan to cut $28 million through cost reductions, mostly from departmental cuts and delaying some planned projects. They also saved $10 million by not filling 372 vacant positions