HALLANDALE BEACH

Hallandale Beach staffer connected to questionable land deal retires suddenly

 

With the abrupt retirement of the finance director Jan. 22, all three employees tied to a botched land deal are no longer with the city.

cteproff@MiamiHerald.com

The last of three Hallandale Beach employees named in an auditors’ report about a botched land purchase abruptly retired last month, according to city records.

Finance Director Patricia Ladolcetta left her $104,000 a year job on Jan. 22, the same day she submitted her retirement paperwork. She leaves with six weeks severance and three months of health insurance benefits.

Landolcetta’s departure comes on the heels of the firing of Alvin Jackson Jr., executive director of the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency. Jackson, who’d been with the city for two years and was paid $101,000 annually, left with a severance package of 20 weeks pay. His last day was Jan. 18.

And in June, Mark Antonio retired as the city manager after 25 years with the city. He had been making $165,000 a year and left with about $100,000 in payouts from unused sick and vacation time and his civil service payout. Antonio was forced to retire because his time was up with the Deferred Retirement Options Plan. The city’s lucrative DROP program allows a public employee to “retire” while still working and earn a salary for a set period of time.

When Renee C. Miller took over as city manager in June, she requested an audit of the land deal that occurred in November 2011, saying in an Aug. 31 memo that she wanted “integrity and transparency in my operations.”

The audit looked at whether the city or its Community Redevelopment Agency paid $1.2 million for 1.9-acre parcel at 416 NE Eighth Ave. from a charter school company run by former Broward County Congressman Peter Deutsch.

The review shows that the purchase was approved for by the CRA Board, but when the sale closed, the land was paid for with city funds.

The report, which came out in September 2012, named three city administrators — Antonio, Jackson and Ladolcetta — as “primarily responsible for the payment transaction.” Though it says that there were “inappropriate and improper’’ actions taken, the report failed to hold any of them accountable for the mistake.

Meanwhile, the Broward Inspector General Office has been looking into city dealings since last year.

Miller said through city spokesman Peter Dobens that she would not comment on personnel matters or whether Landolcetta’s departure is tied to the mistake or the Inspector General’s investigation.

Landolcetta’s separation papers offered little explanation on her departure.

“The parties desire to bring complete closure to the facts and circumstances surrounding Mrs. Ladolcetta’s retirement from employment,” the agreement reads.

Mayor Joy Cooper said although neither she nor the commission have any say in personnel decisions, she supports Miller’s “decision process.”

“I think she has a very strong commitment to setting goals and making sure staff reached those goals,” Cooper said.

Vice Mayor Alexander Lewy said he believes the changes are meant to move the city forward. At least four directors have left since Miller took over.

“The city has been running in an old-school fashion with antiquated methods for so long,” Lewy said. “Our city manager has recognized that and is changing it.”

Read more Broward stories from the Miami Herald

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