Pembroke Pines City Manager Charles Dodge has a sweet gig. For his hard work running the 150,000-resident Broward suburb, his company earns $755,000 a year, thanks to a special deal that makes him and Deputy City Manager Martin Gayeski private contractors, not city employees.
Dodge has managed to maintain this arrangement despite other drastic budget cuts. City leaders recently were forced to lay off dozens of employees, freeze salaries for charter school teachers, outsource the building department and adult day-care services to private companies, and consider hiking taxes to combat a $30 million budget deficit. And there's talk of more outsourcing to come.
The purported goal of all this government privatization is to save money on health care and other employee benefits. Yet Dodge's benefits package hasn't suffered a bit. In fact, despite their status as outside contractors, he and Gayeski continue to receive health insurance coverage from the city, valued at about $37,000 a year.
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Here's how it happened: Dodge worked for the city for years before retiring, getting rehired as city manager, and finally, in 2003, convincing the City Commission to make him an independent contractor. But because he and Gayeski originally started working for the city before 1991, both qualified to receive a perk from those good ol' days -- lifetime health insurance coverage from the city.
Meanwhile, his company, Charles Dodge LLC., gets paid $755,000 a year, a salary that is divided between him and Gayeski. Dodge also has an office in City Hall, with the secretarial staff, office equipment, and supplies that he had when he was a city employee. Except now, he's running a private company, and he gets access to all these perks for free.
The Juice called Dodge to inquire about the arrangement, but his secretary said he was gone by 3:30 p.m. Thursday, and Pembroke Pines City Hall is closed on Fridays. If he ever returns the call, you'll read it here first.