With a budget shortfall approaching $100 million, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez is talking about laying off up to 450 police officers later this year. The mayor spoke about it exclusively with Local 10.
Gimenez said the number of cops on the road would remain the same, but at the same time some important, specialized police units will have to be eliminated, unless the union makes some concessions.
"I don't want to lay off anybody," Gimenez said.
Of those threatened of being eliminated are 35 positions from gang and narcotics units, 17 officers from special victims and 22 from the county robbery bureau.
"I only have so much money," Gimenez said. "I’m not going to raise taxes and so when you don’t raise taxes then you generate this amount of revenue. And so we can only pay for this many police officers with that amount of revenue. That’s why I need the help of labor unions. They don’t want to give up anything."
The mayor is playing hardball again with the police union president, John Rivera, his biggest adversary in the budget battle.
"A lot of this is the doing of the unions themselves because of the things they ask for, and they aren’t willing to come to the table and give up some concessions," Gimenez said. "What they want is they want me to raise taxes and that’s not something I’m willing to do."
Rivera argues cops have given up too much, and that they deserve to get back their 5 percent raise. The commission agreed and overrode the mayor's veto. That's what's created the crisis.
"Unfortunately, the commission does what I consider to be not the right thing, giving these concessions back," Gimenez said. "The unions push for it, and then they create a crisis and then they say, 'Hey Carlos, fix it.' Well, you know, eventually I run out of rabbits."
The mayor said he's not a magician and that he can't just pull $100 million out of his hat.
Contract negotiations with the police union begin Monday.