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Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman June 29, 2012

Mayor Gimenez gets rid of his own executive benefits

As the ultimate symbol of cost-cutting, Carlos Gimenez promised during his 2011 campaign for mayor to cut his own paycheck.

"I'm going to cut the salary and benefits of the mayor by 50 percent," Gimenez said, according to an article posted on CBS 4 on June 29, 2011. "I'm not going to have a car allowance. I'm not going to have two SUV's. I'm not going to have people driving me around."

We gave Gimenez a Promise Kept after he slashed his salary to about $150,000 as he took office (For more details see our update below.) But he took an extra step when he announced in April that he would get rid of executive benefits, the extra compensation that executives could choose to pay for a variety of insurance, retirement and leave benefits. Gimenez cut his his own $10,000 perk, which ended May 28. Getting rid of the benefits, which range between $7,500 and $10,000 for each of about 290 employees, would save about $2.1 million.

Gimenez's spokeswoman Suzy Trutie said that Gimenez will keep his salary of $150,000 in his second year of office.

We rate this Promise Kept.

Our Sources

Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman July 29, 2011

Gimenez slashes his paycheck

Miami-Dade voters, furious about the size of some county workers' paychecks, tossed Mayor Carlos Alvarez out of office in a historic recall in March 2011. The candidates who ran to replace him vowed to reduce county spending and the eventual winner -- Carlos Gimenez -- promised to even cut his own paycheck. 

"I'm going to cut the salary and benefits of the mayor by 50 percent,” Gimenez said, according to an article posted on CBS 4 on June 29, 2011, the day after Gimenez won but before he was sworn in as mayor. "I'm not going to have a car allowance. I'm not going to have two SUVs. I'm not going to have people driving me around.”

Gimenez repeated that claim in an editorial he wrote for the Miami Herald July 2 when he listed areas he defined as critical issues that needed immediate action: "Negotiate new contracts with all unions and secure salary concessions throughout upper management. I will lead by example by reducing the mayor"s salary and benefits by 50 percent."

After he released his proposed budget July 13, the Herald reported: "The mayor's plan calls for cutting his own office budget by 20 percent. Gimenez took office on July 1 announcing he had, on his own initiative, cut his $310,000 salary and benefits package in half and eliminating a controversial $600-a-month car allowance."

Gimenez is now sensitive to the fact that Miami-Dade voters struggling in a weak economy aren't keen on their elected officials driving luxury cars on the taxpayer's dime. During the campaign, a third-party group accused Gimenez -- previously a county commissioner -- of being one and the same with Alvarez because both drove a "fancy European car at taxpayer expense." The Truth-O-Meter ruled that claim Half True because the car allowances of Alvarez and Gimenez were not identical, the ad provided an incomplete picture of the officials' compensation and the ad omitted that Gimenez's opponent Julio Robaina had access to city cars while he was mayor of Hialeah.

Gimenez has clearly restated his goal to cut his paycheck. But the Carlos-O-Meter doesn't just take a politician's word as proof -- we ask for details and documentation. We had questions: Did Gimenez already cut his paycheck in July or did he announce a plan to do so at the start of the next fiscal year Oct. 1? And what exactly did he mean by cutting his benefits -- just his car allowance or also benefits such as health insurance? Can Gimenez simply direct that his own paycheck be cut or does that require county commission approval as part of the budget process? We contacted Miami-Dade officials and asked for documentation -- looking for paycheck stubs or to see if Gimenez had written any memos to county officials asking them to reduce his salary and benefits.

In a separate item, the Carlos-O-Meter will evaluate Gimenez's promise posted on his campaign website that he would slash money for the office of the mayor. In this item, we will examine whether Gimenez cut his pay and benefits in half.

County spokeswoman Suzy Trutie sent us a copy of a June 29, 2011, "personnel change document" for Gimenez -- that was the day after he won the election. That one-page document states that the mayor is supposed to get an annual salary of $150,000 plus $10,000 in executive benefits and "no car allowance; no assigned county vehicle; no health insurance; no 401(a)." That section of the form listing his compensation was initialed by human resources director Mary Lou Rizzo and the form was signed by Liliana Collazo, a county employee who handles human resources for the office of the mayor.

Trutie supplied this breakdown comparing the compensation package of Alvarez and Gimenez.

Alvarez earned an annual salary of $233,124. His benefits were:

$10,000 Executive Benefits Allowance annually

$7,200 annual car allowance

$42,000 annual expense allowance

$1,500 retirement account

$8,135 health insurance

$22,000 deferred compensation

For Alvarez, that added up to $323,959 -- though we'll note he didn't get that full amount for the current year because he was recalled in March.

For Gimenez, his annual salary is $150,000 and $10,000 executive benefits for a total of $160,000. But for the rest of the categories -- car allowance, expense allowance, retirement account, health insurance and deferred compensation -- he is getting nothing from the county. 

But Gimenez does receive other benefits through past government employers. Gimenez, a former firefighter and fire chief, receives his health insurance from the City of Miami Fire Rescue, Trutie said. According to a Herald article printed days before Gimenez won the election, Gimenez already receives a pension -- about $126,800 a year -- from the Miami firefighter pension fund. Gimenez, 57, can receive about $90 a month from the county for his years as a county commissioner once he turns 62. 

Gimenez first paycheck stub shows that his hourly rate is about $72.12 which multiplied by 80 hours times 26 biweekly time periods translates to just about $150,000. (Some categories on this paycheck such as year to date pay overlap with his previous job as a county commissioner.) Usually Gimenez's paychecks will reflect 80 hours but he started his mayoral job part way through the pay period so he was paid for 48 hours. The paycheck also shows $274.72 for executive benefits based on the 48 hour pay period -- Trutie said usually that will be $384.61 for 80 hours which multiplied by 26 equals about $10,000 for the year.

Technically, the county commission must approve Gimenez' salary but they have not yet done that, Trutie said. But Gimenez is still getting paid based on the annual $150,000 salary and $10,000 executive benefits allowance. Trutie noted that Gimenez won't get that full amount for the current fiscal year since he was elected part way through the year.

We also asked if Gimenez has drivers and though his form says no "assigned" county vehicles can he still access county cars when he wants to? Trutie responded in an e-mail: "He does not drive a County vehicle. He drives his personal vehicle to work, events, meetings, etc. ... He drives himself."

Though Gimenez slashed his own paycheck, he has hired others in the office of the mayor who will earn more than him: Genaro "Chip” Iglesias, Deputy Mayor and Chief of Staff will begin in September and earn $225,000 as well as two deputy mayors who have accepted jobs but are pending background checks: Ed Marquez will earn $267,000 and Jack Osterholt will earn $250,000.

To recap, personnel forms clearly show that Gimenez will receive $160,000 a year -- about $150,000 for salary and $10,000 for executive benefits -- numbers that jibe with a Gimenez's pay stub. Yes, the commission most ultimately approve the mayor's new salary, but we see no reason why they would be compelled to pay Gimenez more than he wants. So, we rate this Promise Kept.

Our Sources

CBS 4, "Mayor Elect Gimenez to be sworn in Friday," June 29, 2011

Miami Herald, "Miami-Dade mayor: cut property tax rates, pare services," July 13, 2011

Miami Herald, "Carlos Gimenez: We work for Miami-Dade taxpayers," July 2, 2011

Miami Herald, "Mayoral candidates have both enjoyed perks," June 25, 2011

Miami-Dade County website, "Mayor Carlos Gimenez' proposed 2011-12 budget executive summary," Released July 13, 2011

Miami-Dade County, "Comparison of salary and benefits for Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez and Carlos Alvarez," Accessed July 19, 2011

Miami-Dade County, Mayor Carlos Gimenez' "Personnel Change Document," June 29, 2011

Miami-Dade County, Mayor Carlos Gimenez paycheck, July 15, 2011

Interview, Suzy Trutie, Miami-Dade County spokeswoman, July 20-27, 2011

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