Miramar scraps plan to furlough all city employees amid pushback

MIRAMAR, FLA. (WSVN) - The City of Miramar has announced that they will not be furloughing all city employees after they received heavy pushback from their workers.

Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam confirmed that the city will not be furloughing its employees on Wednesday.

“There will not be furlough actions that will be taking place tonight,” Messam said.

Last week, facing a $24 million shortfall, the City of Miramar announced a plan to furlough all city employees.

“Before we make these type of decisions, our city manager and our city administration assess all the risks and come forward with the best possible plan moving forward,” Messam said last week.

The city’s plan included its first responders.

“Specifically, each employee will be furloughed for eight hours each week from June 11, 2020 to December 9, 2020,” a release from the city stated.

“In terms of our share of inter-governmental revenue that we receive from, let’s say, gas taxes, fees for services that the city has not been able to be in a position to charge just because of the stay-at-home orders and us closing our facilities,” Messam said.

However, the plan came with major pushback from the city workers. Dozens of people gathered outside Miramar City Hall to protest against the possible furloughs that were put in place to help offset the city’s debts.

“This has a chilling effect on all the police officers around the county, not only in the City of Miramar,” Broward Police Benevolent Association spokesperson Rod Skirvin said.

More than 7,000 people have signed an online petition against the plan, but on Tuesday, City Manager Vernon Hargray seemed to be open to other ideas.

“I am exploring other alternatives outside of implementing furloughs,” Hargray wrote.

The city’s manger’s openness is a good sign, but it was not enough, according to the dozens of police officers and firefighters who gathered before the city’s virtual commission meeting, Wednesday.

“No, this can’t happen,” resident Mary Raynor said. “This can’t happen because this is — they’re the most important employees of the city.”

“It was just a bad choice,” said Broward Police Benevolent Association Vice President Tom Tiberio. “He could have done other things.”

“The support coming out, I think the residents find it very important that the first responders and the level of service is upheld,” Cliff Ricketts, a Miramar firefighter, said. “The only way you can do that is to reduce service, to reduce trucks being able to respond. To consider reducing service in the middle of a pandemic or to consider reducing the service for the City of Miramar, I find that very troubling.”

During the meeting, both Hargray and Messam reiterated that there will not be any furloughs for the time being.

“There will not be a furlough,” Hargray said.

“To be clear, there will not be furloughs, which, therefore, I remove the item and the issue off of the table,” Messam said.

However, some people are left wondering since they did not furlough, what will city officials do to shore up the budget?

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