City of Hialeah Pension Reform Charter Amendment Question (November 2013)

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A City of Hialeah Pension Reform Charter Amendment Question ballot question is on the November 5, 2013, election ballot for voters in the city of Hialeah in Miami-Dade County, which is in Florida.[1]

Currently in Hialeah, elected council members are given a pension after they reach the age of 55 and if they have completed 12 years or more of service on the city council. This is not by any means common in South Florida cities. The charter amendment referendum facing voters in November would do away with these pension benefits for future city officials, beginning in January of 2014. Moreover, if approved, this measure would require any changes to the pension plans of elected officials to approved by a city-wide vote. The referendum would do nothing to change the payments being made to mayors and city councilors who have already retired.[2]

Background

Examples of city officials receiving pensions:[2]

  • Former mayor Raul Marinez gathers $180,000 a year from Hialeah tax payers and has done so since his retirement in the early 2000s.
  • Current Mayor Carlos Hernandez will get nearly 190,000 in annual pension payments after he leaves office.

This measure has been passed off by some as simply an electoral trick, aiming to give a boost to a mayoral candidate or council seat candidate at the polls in the November election. Those that have this view use the fact that in 2011 the city council attached a similar referendum measure to the general election ballot to bolster it.[2]

Text of measure

The question on the ballot:

"Revising Pension Article to require voter approval of future changes to elected officials pension"

Shall the City amend the pension provisions of the Hialeah Charter to require Hialeah voters to approve any future changes to the pension plan for elected officials, which will be closed to new elected officials beginning on January 1,2014[1][3]

A copy of the agenda of the city council meeting which approved this question for the ballot is available here.

Support

MarcoMiralles.png

Supporters

Arguments in favor

Proponents argue that the city has had serious budgetting issues lately and should reserve revenue for city services rather than giving it away to a large pension fund for city officials. Supporters of the referendum that lean towards Libertarian principles say that elected officials are public servant and should be motivated by desire for the common good instead of money. Some even argue that mayors should not even receive a salary, let alone a pension.

Those arguing in favor of the referendum point to cities that do not even compensate their mayors at all, such as Coral Gables and Surfside.[2]

City Council candidate Marcos Miralles has announced his approval of this measure but criticizes it for not doing enough and ignoring the problem of large pensions being received by current retirees. He also criticized the city council for using this measure for political posturing, when it does not, in fact, solve the pension issues of the city. Despite Miralles saying the measure does not go far enough and is not much more than a political trick, he does acknowledge that the referendum is a good one and encourages a "yes" vote from electors on November 5.[2][4]

Opposition

Opponents

Arguments against

Anthony Luis, who is the president of the local Police Benevolent Association, said that, according to his viewpoint, the referendum is unfair to future candidates who were considering their pension when they filed to be candidates.

Mayoral candidate Juan Santana, holds the position that the referendum is just an excuse. "They don't have money anymore. They're gutting the pension fund because it can't be funded anymore. But they're making it seem as if they were doing something heroic, of their own choice."[2]

City elections

Mayoral election

The city of Hialeah will hold a mayoral election on November 19, 2013. A primary election will take place on November 5, 2013 with the top two vote getters advancing to the general election.

Candidates

The following candidates will appear on the November 5, 2013 primary ballot.[5]

Council election

Two seats on the city council for Hialeah, Florida are up for election in 2013, for council-member positions Group V and VI.

The primary election will take place on November 5, 2013 with the top two vote getters advancing to the general election on November 19. However, there are only two candidates for each of the city council seats, and thus there will be no need for runoff election, which makes the actual race day on November 5.

The following candidates will appear on the November 5, 2013 primary ballot.[6]

Group 5

Group 6

See also

External links

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