Pembroke Pines City Manager Charlie Dodge isn’t packing his bags and leaving — yet.
Now he and the City Commission will wait for a report from the city auditor on what he should get paid.
And it might even be a fatter paycheck then he asked for.
On Wednesday night, the City Commission discussed voting to pay Dodge, already one of the state’s highest paid city managers, $285,000.
Just two weeks ago, Dodge, 65, had told them he’d accept $274,500. But the commission countered with $198,000.
An insulted Dodge let it be known he wasn’t happy with the city, which he’s led for 23 years. This week he let it be known he was interested in applying for a vacancy in Sunrise, a city almost half the size of Pembroke Pines. That job pays $200,000.
“This city is at a critical point,’’ said Pines Vice Mayor Carl Shechter, who urged the commission to pay Dodge the maximum. “Changing horses at this point would be a mistake.’’
But Commissioners Iris Siple and Jay Schwartz, who spearheaded the charge to lower the city manager’s compensation package, said they wanted to know how Pembroke Pines ranks to the national average with its benefits and pay.
“Spending too much on anything worries me,’’ Schwartz said. “This is the reason I ran for office, to reform deficient ways.’’
Instead of voting on Dodge’s salary, the commission instead voted unanimously to ask an auditor to prepare a recommendation on the city manager’s salary.
For almost a decade, Dodge has had an unusual private contract that paid him and his top lieutenant, Martin Gayeski, about $700,000 a year. It is unknown how they divided the fee.
In June, Dodge announced he would not seek a renewal of the contract the city made with his private firm, Charles F. Dodge, LLC, when it expires in February. But he said he would return as a full-time employee, as stipulated in the contract.
Although the commissioners were not able to settle in September on a salary to keep their city manager happy, they did budget $285,000 for the position. They did so, they said, only to meet their statutory obligation to pass a city budget by Oct. 1.
Dodge agreed that having the auditor recommend a salary was fair.
“I think this work should be done prior to the next meeting so that you all can decide what will be done,’’ he said.
“One thing that wasn't taken into consideration, when I was an employee I had an average of 3 percent increase per year,’’ Dodge added. “I did the calculations and it came close to the number placed in the budget.’’
Commissioner Angelo Castillo said the city leaders were doing now what they should have done months ago.
“The city manager’s salary expires in February,’’ he said. “If we can’t come up with a conclusion, we will have to come up with another city manager. And we don’t have a lot of time.”
To Castillo, it’s not the amount of money the commission agrees to pay Dodge. It’s that they agree to that number unanimously.
“I feel it’s not only about coming up with a number, but coming up with support,’’ Castillo said.