Broward News

Pembroke Pines Union Rep: Cuts Should Start With City Manager

As the Pembroke Pines City Commission prepares to vote tonight on more budget cuts for the cash-strapped suburb, city employees have reached a boiling point.

"Our people have suffered enough," says Jim Silvernale, spokesman for the local Federation of Public Employees.

Already, at least 84 Pines workers have been laid off this year, as building department and adult day-care services were outsourced to private companies. Next on the chopping block: pension benefits for police, firefighters, and other employees.

But Silvernale is balking at the proposal to reduce retirement benefits -- especially because it comes from City Manager Charles Dodge, a man whose private company rakes in a $755,000 annual salary from the city, along with free health insurance.

"They keep pigeon-holing everything instead of looking at the budget as a whole," Silvernale says. "I think they should start at the top, with the city manager."

Silvernale says his union's lawyer has suggested at previous budget meetings that Pines could replace its city manager and city attorney and save boatloads of cash. But no one rushed to agree with him. "There's no response," Silvernale says. "They don't care."

Tonight, the City Commission will consider declaring "financial urgency" to speed negotiations with the union over the pension cuts. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m at City Hall, 10100 Pines Blvd.