In one of his first acts as Miami's District 3 city commissioner, Joe Carollo plans to undo one of his brother's last.
Carollo, who won an election last month to occupy the position being vacated by his term-limited younger brother, wants to reclaim $171,800 moved out of a discretionary office account by Frank Carollo in order to keep his former office staff employed at their existing salaries by the city for up to a full year while they hunt for new jobs.
The money was allowed to be moved into a special human resources account by a vote of the city commission last month because city policy only guarantees city commission staffers three months of employment in temporary positions at a wage of $15-an-hour after their bosses leave office. Carollo, who stepped down Saturday to make way for his older brother, wanted to ensure his employees had at least a full year of employment without enduring any cuts to their pay.
But in supporting the request, commissioners stripped Joe Carollo of a significant chunk of money for his office. And he wants the funds returned.
"I have made it no secret the importance of my staff to me. My brother assured me -- face to face -- that my staff would be ok," Frank Carollo wrote in a text message. "[Joe Carollo's proposal] does not appear to be in line with that assurance, however, I will let it play out instead of assuming."
It's debatable how much commissioners helped Frank Carollo's staff by setting aside the money, considering that administrators are required to help former commission staffers apply for new, full-time positions at the city when their bosses leave office. Once those employees transfer, the city plans to continue paying their salaries with the money taken from the District 3 office instead of otherwise paying them out of general fund coffers -- which Joe Carollo said is a poor use of district money.
"I wasn't going to let monies that should be used by this office go to waste," he said, adding that he made the decision to ask for the return of the money after talking to Miami's city manager about the likely use of the funds in his brother's special account. "I said, if that's what you're going to do, I'm going to ask that the rest of the money be returned."
Carollo said he is leaving some money in the special account to ensure one of his brother's higher-paid staffers isn't forced to take a big pay cut over the next three months. But otherwise, he said his office needs the money, and argued that the city should keep a practice of following its policies.
"Otherwise," he said, "what's the use of policies and guidelines?"