The Biscayne Times

Jun 24th
It’s Your Money, So Check Your Town PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mark Sell, BT Contributor   
January 2019

Public service in Biscayne Times territory is seldom lucrative, but then there are those “non-accountable” expense allowances

Ibigstock-money-falling-in-the-sky-backg-17606348t’s always a good time for a guide to how municipal pay compares up and down the Biscayne Corridor. And now, with the start of a new year, it’s especially relevant to see where your taxpayer dollars will be spent in 2019.

Thus, with a tip of the hat to the county’s Commission on Ethics and Public Trust, we review the commission’s January 2018 report on compensation of elected officials in Miami-Dade County’s 34 municipalities.

We have customized and updated, when available, that information to spotlight Biscayne Times territory, from Aventura and Golden Beach south through the cities of Miami Beach and Miami. Of these communities, only one -- Miami-Dade County -- has a strong-mayor form of government.

Here’s a guide to how your community stacks up.

Aventura: Population 37,724. Mayor: $10,000. Commissioners: $7500 each. They also get money from a non-accountable expense plan of more than $8000. City manager gets a salary of $252,000. The city does not contribute toward a retirement fund or pension plan mayor and commissioners.

Bal Harbour: Population 3050. Mayor: $30,000, voted up from $1800 in September 2017. Council members: $24,000, up from $1200. Village manager salary: $222,847.

Bay Harbor Islands: Population 5975. Mayor and Town Council members, $1 a year each. They are reimbursed for town-related travel. Town manager’s salary: $172,579.

Biscayne Park: Population 3198. Mayor: $4000. Commissioners: $2000. Village manager salary: $83,041.

El Portal: Population 2480. Mayor and council members each get an “allocation” of $3000 a year, set by ordinance and paid quarterly, plus monthly cell phone allowance of $70. Village manager’s salary: $85,000. The village started contributing to the Florida Retirement System on behalf of elected officials in October 2017, budgeting $11,400.

Golden Beach: Population 968. Mayor and council members get $1 a year. No cell phone, car, or travel reimbursement. City manager’s salary: $182,973.

Indian Creek Village: Population 91. Officials have no compensation in any way for anything. Village manager’s salary: $107,936.

Miami: Population 473,579. Mayor’s salary: $97,000. Commissioner’s salary: 60 percent of mayor’s salary, or currently $58,200. Miami city manager earns $265,000. Four of five commissioners receive taxable fringe benefits of $46,000. The city contributes $19,400 to a retirement account for the mayor and $11,640 to retirement accounts of three commissioners. Frank Carollo and Francis Suarez opted out of the program. The city spent $510,000 to fund its Elected Officer’s Retirement Trust, which serves six current and former officials who have served at least seven years.

Miami Beach: Population 91,917. Mayor gets an annual salary of $10,000, and commissioners $6000, unchanged since 1966. Commissioners get a car allowance of $6000 and an expense allowance of $2250. Mayor: $2000. The city manager makes $291,011, and the city attorney makes $305,736.

Miami-Dade County: Population 2,456,378. Commissioners’ salaries were set by charter at $6000 in 1957, when you could actually eat on that. And they have stayed there! Various referendums -- bundled with other items in confusing, arguably foolish ways -- have tried to bring that up to a level more appropriate to the duties, but have been defeated. Unlike 1957, however, commissioners receive additional compensation for non-accountable allowances of $55,100, which includes a cash allocation, expense allowance, supplemental pension contribution, and car allowance. Each commissioner also gets a county cell phone, and each district gets a county credit card. The highest amount charged on the card in 2016 was District 2 -- Jean Monestime -- at $36,370. Carlos Gimenez, “strong mayor” since 2011, set his own salary at $150,000, far lower than the $235,922 of his predecessor, Carlos Alvarez.

Miami Shores: Population 10,762. The mayor and village council members each get $1 a year. They are also budgeted $1000 a year for constituent issues but normally do not spend it. The village manager receives a compensation package of salary and fringe benefits totaling $173,576.

North Bay Village: Population 8262. Mayor is paid $7800 a year, commissioners $6500. No car allowances, but all are issued a village cell phone. Each had a budget of $4000 for travel expenses for fiscal 2016. The city manager receives $96,000 a year.

North Miami: Population 62,136. The mayor makes a base salary of $59,880, taxable fringes of $17,640 for expenses, car, and mobile phone, and a $10,000 travel budget. Council members get $47,910, with $17,640 in taxable fringe benefits, a $5000 travel budget, and a $7000 discretionary fund. Each gets a city credit card. City manager and city attorney each make $240,000.

North Miami Beach: Population 43,891. Mayor’s salary is $3600 with taxable fringe benefits of $28,799. Commissioners make $3000 with fringes of $23,999. The city budgets $3000 per official for travel, and commissioners share $30,581 for supplies and memberships. Each commissioner is budgeted $21,286 in a contingency account that can be spent at the commissioner’s discretion. The mayor and commissioners get city credit cards. City manager Esmond Scott makes an annual salary of $170,000, and city attorney Sarah Johnston makes $160,000. City contributes three percent of the mayor’s and commissioner’s salaries to their retirement accounts with the Florida Retirement System.

Sunny Isles Beach: Population 22,086. Mayor’s salary is $15,000, and commissioners get $12,000. Each has an expense stipend of $6000 a year. The city manager makes an annual salary of $232,551. City contributed $7874 toward retirement benefits for the mayor and council.

Surfside: Population 5811. The mayor and town commissioners each make $1 a year. They get mobile phones, which cost the town a total of $6000 a year. Some expenses are reimbursed with the approval of the town manager. Surfside is one of few municipalities that heeded the Ethics Commission’s 2007 report and eliminated non-accountable expense allowances. The city manager makes $155,000, and the town does not offer retirement benefits to the commissioners or mayor.


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