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City manager’s ouster could cost Miami Beach half a million dollars

The ouster of Miami Beach’s long time city manager could cost taxpayers more than half a million dollars.

Ever since Jorge Gonzalez submitted his resignation following weeks of turmoil, city officials have asked for the value of Gonzalez’s full compensation — the basis for his pending severance.

The city’s human resources department has now provided an answer: $501,768.77.

In a July 12 email to the city attorney, Human Resources Director and former Gonzalez chief of staff Ramiro Inguanzo attached a spreadsheet that he said “captures the aggregate compensation for 12 months for Jorge.”

Among the items included in the spreadsheet: Gonzalez’s $231,000 salary; $50,000 in insurance policies; $24,000 housing allowance; $56,000 in annual paid time off; and $62,600 related to his public pension.

Inguanzo said everything in the spreadsheet was pulled from the city’s payroll system, except for a list of Gonzalez memberships and subscriptions paid for by the city that Gonzalez valued at $12,654

Commissioners will discuss Gonzalez’s compensation during their Wednesday meeting at City Hall, 1700 Convention Center Dr.

The value of Gonzalez’s compensation is key due to the circumstances surrounding his resignation.

Gonzalez, who ran the city for nearly a dozen years, stepped down amid a push for him to resign or be fired. His contract expired in August of next year, but called for him to receive a severance of “12 months aggregate compensation” if he resigned “following a suggestion, whether formal or informal, by the city that he resign.”

So questions have not been about whether he would receive a severance, but about how much he would receive.

“We now know what he wants. Now we have to find out what it is he’s entitled to,” said Commissioner Michael Góngora.

Gonzalez, however, said he has not made any demands for severance or claimed a final aggregate compensation total.

He said his talks with city lawyers have not yet focused on which items — or at what value — should be part of his severance.

“That number could change one way or the other,” said Gonzalez, who officially resigned July 8. He remains on the city’s employee rolls while burning accrued time off worth more than $100,000.

City Attorney Jose Smith said members of the city’s legal staff and a private attorney met Monday afternoon with Gonzalez and had a 30-minute, “very preliminary conversation.” He declined to comment on individual items on Gonzalez’s compensation list.

“I only received this spreadsheet last week and I haven’t had an opportunity to go over it with our outside counsel. I really can’t comment on which, if any, of these items are compensable,” he said.

Some city commissioners said they were surprised at the overall figure provided by human resources, even though all but Commissioner Jorge Exposito voted at least once to amend Gonzalez’s contract.

“We’re not going to have to pay him half a million dollars,” said Commissioner Jonah Wolfson. “It’s bananas. It’s not happening.”

It isn’t yet clear if city commissioners will vote on Gonzalez’s severance.

Gonzalez said his contract calls for his severance to be arbitrated should he and Smith not agree on his package. Smith, however, said it is likely that commissioners will vote on at least some aspects of Gonzalez’s severance, or vote to send the parties to an arbitrator.

Also Wednesday, commissioners also are slated to vote on an interim manager contract for Kathie Brooks, who is leaving her position as budget director to run the city while commissioners hunt for a permanent replacement. Brooks’ contract is worth $220,000 annually, though it only runs through mid-January and can only be extended by a vote of the city commission.

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