How much is a city manager worth?
Pembroke Pines commissioners believe longtime city manager Charlie Dodge should be paid between $215,000 and $285,000 a year, ranking him among the highest-paid city administrators in the state. But Dodge is also one of the longest-serving and most accomplished city managers in Florida, said Mayor Frank Ortis.
Wherever Dodge’s pay falls between those parameters, he will still be taking a significant pay cut from the past 10 years, when the city paid between $670,000 and $750,000 a year for the services of both Dodge and the deputy city manager, Martin Gayeski.
Dodge and Gayeski are employed through a contract with Dodge’s private firm, Charles F. Dodge, LLC, and city officials have no idea how Dodge and Gayeski divide the monies once they’re paid. The contract is due to expire in February.
Transparency was one of the concerns voiced by Commissioner Iris Siple over Dodge’s and Gayeski’s status as contract employees. Siple said she wants Dodge’s and Gayeski’s pay to be known to taxpayers.
“We knew what we paid as a total,’’ she said, “but we knew nothing about where it went after that.’’
Pembroke Pines commissioners discussed Dodge’s salary Wednesday night, shortly after Dodge finished a presentation of the proposed 2012-13 annual budget. The city expects to spend $153 million in general funds in the coming year, an increase of about $1.4 million over the current year.
Commissioners set the millage rate at $5.6368, which is the same as the current year, and approved a residential fire fee of $235.44, which also remained static.
The longest discussion of the first public budget hearing, however, was reserved for Dodge’s salary.
Commissioner Jay Schwartz protested that Dodge’s proposed pay of $285,000 a year exceeded that of the mayors of Los Angeles and New York, though the mayors of those cities also receive sizeable benefits, such as homes during their tenures, and the assistance of numerous staff members. Dodge does not receive such benefits.
Still, Schwartz said, Dodge is asking for too much.
Broward County Administrator Bertha Henry is paid a salary of $310,000 a year, he said, and the top 10 populated cities in Florida pay their city managers a range of $90,000 to $195,000 a year, except for Fort Lauderdale, which pays its city manager a salary of $199,000.
“You can only pay so much, and after that it’s a cap,’’ he said.
Then Schwartz proposed that Dodge be paid $215,000 a year because, he said, the city’s costs in FICA, Social Security and Medicare contributions would bring the total cost of employing Dodge to $285,000 a year.
Mayor Ortis then spoke in defense of Dodge, citing his dual roles as city manager and superintendent of the city’s charter school system. Dodge has been a city employee for 30 years, 23 of those as city manager. He oversees about 1,200 employees, Ortis said, and keeps a small management force of six department heads and two deputy assistants.
Ortis then proposed that Dodge’s total compensation package, including car and phone allowances, be closer to $299,400 a year — or about $1.93 per Pembroke Pines resident per year, he said.
In that context, Pembroke Pines residents are getting a bargain, Ortis said.
He said neighboring Miramar pays its city manager a total compensation package of $301,000 a year, or about $2.46 per resident per year. He said the Sunrise city manager receives a compensation package of $362,000 a year, or more than $4 per resident per year.
Dodge’s compensation package, however, will not include a pension or health insurance. Dodge already collects a $75,000 annual pension, and he receives free health insurance for life — benefits he earned at retirement in 2002. He returned as a contractor the following year.
Two Pembroke Pines residents shared divergent opinions about Dodge’s salary at Wednesday’s hearing.
Ryann Greenberg said she took issue with Dodge’s pay, and suggested the city begin planning for his eventual departure.
Jim Ryan disagreed, and said he credited Dodge and his predecessor, Woody Hampton, as “The team that took this city from what it used to be to what it is today.
“The 30 years experience Charlie Dodge has deserves a fair and equitable salary considering all he’s done for this city,’’ Ryan said.
Pembroke Pines commissioners will set Dodge’s pay at the second public budget hearing on Sept. 19.