Robert Payton, 54, has worked for only one employer his adult life: the city of Miramar, where Payton began as a garbage collector in 1977 and rose through the ranks to become city manager, a job he held since 2001 but resigned suddenly on Monday night.
In return for his years of service, Payton will collect $2.4 million, mostly in deferred pension and retirement benefits, and a small amount of accrued sick and vacation time. He also gets 21 years of dental and health insurance, which will cost Miramar about $25,800 annually. On top of that, he will receive an annual pension of $110,593.
Explaining his resignation on Tuesday, Payton said, “The decision wasn’t rational. It was emotional.’’
Payton said he had been considering retirement for several years now, but he couldn’t settle on the right time to leave because of pressing city issues, such as the economic downturn or a municipal project.
“I would always say, ‘Oh my gosh, this is the Hotel California,’” he said, referring to the popular song about a fictional inn where guests can check in but they can never leave.
Payton said he began to lay the groundwork for retirement in October 2011, when he hired Wazir A. Ishmael, a city employee, as deputy city manager. Payton said Ishmael, who was appointed interim city manager on Monday, shadowed him on the job and participated in executive decisions.
Ishmael said Tuesday that “Mr. Payton has been talking about retirement to me for at least four years.’’
Still, Payton’s announcement of the decision was sudden.
According to his employment contract, Payton was supposed to give the city 60 days advance notice of his voluntary resignation.
He announced his intent to resign Monday, according to his separation agreement.
“It felt strange having to pick a [retirement] date,’’ he said. “I wanted to work up until the last bit.”
Payton’s last day was a tough one.
On Monday, local TV station WPLG-Channel 10 reported that Payton’s brother, Chris Payton, 52, had been rehired by Miramar’s parks and recreation department in 2007 after retiring from the city’s utilities department earlier the same year.
Chris Payton is paid $50,000 a year for a part-time job renting parks facilities and helping with programs. He also receives an annual pension benefit of about $50,000 a year.
As a part-time employee, though, Chris Payton receives no benefits, holidays or vacation — just his salary, said Natasha Hampton, human resources director.
A full-time employee in the same job would start at an annual pay rate of about $31,000 plus benefits, which could bring the total compensation cost for the employee to about $60,000 a year or more.
Hampton denied that nepotism played a role in Chris Payton’s rehiring.
“Nepotism is when you have a relative who directly supervises the employee,’’ she said.
Hampton said Miramar sometimes rehires retired employees in order to retain “experience and knowledge that’s priceless.’’ She said Miramar retirees who are rehired do not receive any benefits, only a salary.
Robert Payton denied paying any role in his brother’s rehiring, and said he kept an arm’s length from the process.
“I did not get involved with anything regarding my brother whatsoever,” he said.