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Staff salary raises handed out by Mayor Alvarez counter cost-cutting claims

Under fire for delivering double-digit raises to his closest advisors during a budget crisis, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez has defended himself by saying the perks were part of a broader staff reorganization that eliminated jobs and saved money.

But many of the executives whose jobs disappeared are still working for the county, in some cases at higher salaries -- raising questions about how much the cutbacks have saved taxpayers.

For example, the mayor said the 54 percent raise he gave in 2008 to his $125,000 per year director of communications, Victoria Mallette, was a bargain because she replaced two other executives.

``The truth is, if you look at the situation as it really played out, I saved the county, I don't know, more than $100,000,'' Alvarez told WQBA radio host Oscar Haza on Tuesday, two days after a Miami Herald report detailed raises to his top aides. Read more here.

-- JACK DOLAN AND MATT HAGGMAN

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