By: Robin Ford Wallace, Reporter
marked the first payroll of 2013 for Dade County employees that included the
unpaid furloughs necessitated by this year’s budget shortfalls, and next Tuesday,
the day following Labor Day, is the first of the unpaid “holidays” adopted by
the county to make ends meet. The Sentinel stopped by the Dade County
Commission office on Thursday to check with Mary Bailey, the county’s payroll
clerk, on how the furloughs were proceeding.
explained that employees had some latitude in how to take their cuts. They
could take the unpaid holidays – there are three yearly – she said, or give up
two hours a week, which is four a pay period. “The salaried people can take the
holiday and use a sick day or a vacation day to make it up, but not the hourly
people,” she said. “The hourly people have to take the deduction in hours.”
employees are actually giving up more, said Ms. Bailey: With the commission office
now closed on Fridays, those whose schedules do not allow them to come in early
or stay late the other days – such as parents with children in school – find it
easier just to give up the whole eight hours.
salaried managers who would have been allowed to use vacation or sick pay had
opted to take the cut in pay, said Ms. Bailey. “Some of the department heads
chose to give up the money also, because their employees did and they wanted
to, too,” she said.
But what about
elected officials? asked the Sentinel. The county commissioners who vote for
the furloughs always say they will share them. Have they?
answered that County Executive Chairman Ted Rumley had made arrangements with
her to do so. The other commissioners had not yet given her instructions. “But
they don’t make much at all,” she said.
for county district commissioners is $4,000 yearly, though the state does
specify longevity raises. Commissioners are paid once a month, said Ms. Bailey,
and she had issued checks to them this payroll.
Rumley said on Thursday that all the commissioners did intend to take the cut,
and on Friday he said he had spoken with them by phone and all four had
confirmed they would remit a percentage of their pay.
Rumley said he
had begun his current course of participating in the furloughs – writing a
personal check that goes back into the general fund – after getting into hot
water with his accountant for simply having his pay docked during previous
furloughs. The accountant had explained that the state mandated his salary and
that representing it otherwise constituted underreporting income. The way
around that was to make the “furloughed” amount a gift to the county. Thus
Rumley writes a $100 check to the county every pay period, or $2,400 a year.
said he never took his vacation time but that was personal preference – “I like living in Dade County. I don’t like
leaving” – and that he’d only been out sick one day.
And what about
the other elected officials, such as the judges, sheriff and tax commissioner?
Are they also participating in the hourly employees’ pain?
“I can’t force them,” said Rumley.
And Mary Bailey
said none of them had volunteered so far.