Newspaper Claims Free Cars for City Workers Cost Miami Millions
According to a two-month investigation by the Miami Herald newspaper, the city of Miami spends approximately $3 million per year on a take-home program that enables off-duty police officers and public officials to park their cars at home.Eighty-three percent of the 1,096 employees who drive city cars home (907) leave the city limits to get there. It also costs Miami taxpayers about $2.73 million per year in fuel, maintenance, depreciation, and insurance just to get its public servants to and from their homes.Currently, the city cannot touch take-home cars for 35 code enforcement inspectors, 74 fire officials and 863 police, who obtained cars through unions’ collective bargaining agreements, which must be dealt with in union negotiations, starting in March.The take-home program began to spread in the early 1990s, following a series of bad publicity stories over the condition of the fleet. By 1993, the union had negotiated the cars for all police officers regardless of where they lived. In return, officers agreed to give up a 2 percent pay raise that averaged about $14 per week.Today, the police fleet consists of more than 1,000 cars, up from 350 in 1992. Among them are 863 city-owned take-home cars.