City of Hialeah Pension Reform Charter Amendment Question (November 2013)
|Voting on Local|
|Local Ballot Measures|
|February 28, 2014|
|Original Case study|
|San Jose & San Diego|
According to the 2012 U.S. Census estimate, Hialeah is the 88th largest city in the nation and the 6th largest city in Florida with a population of 231,941. 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 be 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.
Below are the unofficial final results with 52 of 52 precincts reporting.
|Hialeah Pension Charter Amendment|
- These results are from the Miami Dade County elections office.
Examples of city officials receiving pensions at the time of the Amendment Question:
- 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 was 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 had this view use the fact that in 2011 the city council attached a similar referendum measure to the general election ballot to bolster it.
Text of measure
The question on the ballot:
This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
| "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?
A copy of the agenda of the city council meeting which approved this question for the ballot is available here.
Arguments in favor
Proponents argued that the city has had serious budgeting 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, said that elected officials are public servants and should be motivated by desire for the common good instead of money. Some even argued that mayors should not even receive a salary, let alone a pension.
Those that argued in favor of the referendum point to cities that do not even compensate their mayors at all, such as Coral Gables and Surfside.
City Council candidate Marcos Miralles announced his approval of this measure but criticized 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 the measure for political posturing, when it does not, in fact, solve the pension issues of the city. Despite that Miralles said the measure does not go far enough and is not much more than a political trick, he did acknowledge that the referendum was a good one and encourages a "yes" vote from electors on November 5.
- Anthony Luis, president of the local Police Benevolent Association
- Juan Santana, mayoral candidate in November election
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, held the position that the referendum was 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."
The city of Hialeah will hold a mayoral election on November 19, 2013. A primary election took place on November 5, 2013 with the top two vote getters advancing to the general election.
The following candidates appeared on the November 5, 2013 primary ballot.
Two seats on the city council for Hialeah, Florida were up for election in 2013, for council-member positions Group V and VI.
The primary election took place on November 5, 2013 with the top two vote getters advancing to the general election on November 19. However, there were only two candidates for each of the city council seats, and thus there was no need for runoff election, which made the actual race day on November 5.
The following candidates appeared on the November 5, 2013 primary ballot.</ref>
- Hialeah mayoral election, 2013
- Hialeah city council elections, 2013
- November 5, 2013 ballot measures in Florida
- Miami-Dade County, Florida ballot measures