Where are the City’s Reserves and Capital Improvements? (Part II)

In response to comments on a previous post, I have endeavored to find information about salaries, wages and benefits in Coral Gables and comparative full service cities. Detailed information on salaries and benefits are not easily obtained. The most recent information indicates a few interesting comparative facts.

The Coral Gable’s 2009-2010 initial proposed budget indicated average costs of $118,300 per employee. The average pension costs are $23.5 million in addition to wages ($58.9), pension costs, FICA, workers comp., and sick leave adding up to $97.8 million out of total budget of around $155 million, or more than 60% of the total budget (that were subsequently changed in millage rate negotiations).

Based on 2007 comparative information (source: http://www.City-Data.com) there indicates that police and firefighters wages in Coral Gables are consistently above those in Key Biscayne, Miami Beach, the City of Miami, West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale. The average firefighter earns $95,661 in Coral Gables; compared to $77,685 in Key Biscayne; $91,503 in Miami Beach; $85,569 in the City of Miami; West Palm Beach $76,718; and $40,978, Fort Lauderdale. Similarly for police officers, the salary in Coral Gables is $77,547, compared to $75,404 in Miami, $73,741 in Key Biscayne; the much larger $96,165 in Miami Beach; 79,155 in West Palm Beach; and Fort Lauderdale, $79,696. It is assumed that these rates do not include pension benefits.

Average wages in government are as follows: Coral Gables, $67,595; Key Biscayne, $71,215; Miami, $64,576; Miami Beach, $63,709; West Palm Beach, $60,553 and Fort Lauderdale, $55,062. These data do not take account benefits that greatly add to average wage costs.

One may conclude that Coral Gables wages are generally above the average compared to other full service cities, although there are some specific differences. One wonders why Coral Gables would have to pay in the highest range of salaries given the relatively good working conditions and residential environment in City Beautiful. The higher wages and benefits, therefore, are due to additional factors such as the leverage of local unions, their involvement in local elections and the relative apathy of local voters and taxpayers as well as the abundance of tax revenues in recent years.  Also, other cities were making the same mistake as Coral Gables of pushing up wages and benefits in good budget times.

About Stephen E. McGaughey
International consultant in economic development programs and projects

One Response to Where are the City’s Reserves and Capital Improvements? (Part II)

  1. lois says:

    thank you for doing the additional work! the question of course becomes where do we go from here since the city leadership has patently ignored our concerns

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