Last month, longtime Hollywood City Manager Cameron Benson caught heat in public from Mayor Peter Bober, who had made sport of publicly shaming his chief bean counters since a May revelation that the city was millions of dollars further in debt than it had disclosed.
Benson also faces an ethics investigation by FDLE and the FBI after two anonymous letters surfaced alleging that Benson had cut a deal with garbage hauler WastePro and used gift cards provided by the company to buy new furniture for his vacation house in Nova Scotia.
Now Tonya Alanez, who has recently left the Broward courthouse to take on a full-time Hollywood beat at the Sun-Sentinel, reports that Benson is getting
around $288,000 in severance pay, plus retirement savings and an eventual city pension.
Benson managed to resign last month before he was kicked out, or in the words of city spokeswoman Raelin Storey, "he agreed that a separation from the city was in the best interests of the city, and he agreed with those individuals who thought he should be terminated."
Still, Benson denied covering up a growing fiscal crisis. "I have never done anything that would lead people to think I was hiding financial information," he said at a City Commission meeting.
But the surprise $8.5 million shortfall announced in May was noted on internal documents as early as March. Bober's previous scapegoat for the error, Cynthia Forrester, who worked under Benson, has not made an exit. Sources close to Benson's office told New Times that Benson worked closely with Forrester.
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Meanwhile, new reports show that the city overestimated various revenue streams in its 2011 budget, such as a $1m overshot in anticipated red-light camera haulings.