Above, Hallandale Beach City Hall Complex monument, Hallandale Beach, FL. May 15, 2012 photo by South Beach HoosierCsaba Kulin exposes the multi-million dollar bill to be borne by Hallandale Beach taxpayers for having a disconnected City Commission that was -and is- NOT interested in paying close attention to detail or in asking tough questions. That's how and why former City Managers Intindola and Good have made out like bank robbers
Most regular readers of this blog might recall that a few weeks ago I promised that I'd soon have some pretty jaw-dropping evidence to share about what's really been going on in this ocean-side city for years, thanks to consistently having the wrong people in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Now, thanks to the diligent hard work and research of my friend and fellow Hallandale Beach & Broward County civic activist, Csaba Kulin, the taxpayers of this city and anyone else truly interested in good government -or the lack of it- can finally wrap their heads around these galling and unbelievable numbers.
Csaba details for you in very stark terms what the true cost has been the past ten years for having elected officials in Hallandale Beach who did NOT pay close attention to detail, and who did NOT demand a reasonable level of scrutiny of public policy proposals or changes in personnel policy.
The true costs of having so many inattentive and easily-distracted City Commissioners who did NOT ask probing questions, or make the financial well-being of this city and its taxpayers their first priority.
Instead, we've had people who were just happy to sit on the dais and almost eager to act as mere Rubber Stamps, lest they be required to do any real thinking.
Csaba and I have been talking and meeting about this particular pension change matter for many, many months.
Which is to say that even as former HB City Manager R.J. Intindola, up in Georgia, and his one-man peanut gallery in HB, Andrew Markoff, have continually sought to publicly malign and attack, in both print and at HB City Commission meetings, myself, Comm. Keith London,
Change Hallandale's Michael Butler and many other HB residents who desperately want genuine reform, transparency and accountability in this city, I've kept quiet.
Because I had the satisfaction of already knowing that the cold hard facts were going to come out eventually, and rain hard on the three of them and Dotty Ross, Joy Cooper and William "Bill" Julian.
The truth that would show that even while South Florida's incurious news media has largely snoozed the past ten years on what was happening in Hallandale Beach, with the Miami Herald not even regularly covering public meetings in-person, facts would come out that showed how self-righteous and self-serving former City Managers Intindola and Good were.
(My Sept. 28, 2011 post titled, Holding a mirror to R.J. Intindola - May be time soon to publicly open-up on know-it-all ex-HB CM, and reveal 'inconvenient' facts he avoids really raised the hackles of former City Manager Intindola, since he doesn't like public criticism of any kind, so he accused me in print of being a liar, and thought he would embarrass me. But as you read the facts stated by Csaba below, you'll see that I was right and also see why Intindola's so sensitive -he's got a lot to be defensive about. And a lot to be embarrassed about!
Facts that would also show what a complete dupe Markoff was for continually singing the praises of someone like Intindola, who aggressively pushed a pension change to the City Commission one year before he retired himself, a change that he stands to personally benefit from to the tune of an extra $2.1 Million from HB taxpayers.
To paraphrase what I wrote last month on April 11th about former HB Commissioner and 2012 candidate William "Bill" Julian, "Ten years of NOT just being being wrong on the issues and facts that were important for Hallandale Beach's beleaguered taxpayers and residents who wanted to see their city improved, but ten years of being stubbornly foolish and myopic in their bad judgment."
30 Weeks until Election Day, and candidate William "Bill" Julian STILL shows no remorse over his years of myopia, incompetency, apathy and bad votes that hurt HB taxpayers and made the city a laughingstock. Just like Comm. Sanders!
It's taken much longer to post here than I originally planned, but I believe the wait was worth it to get the true facts out to the public who'll actually be footing this bill for decades to come.
And who will be voting in November.
May 18, 2012
For a number of years, I have been very critical of the management and administration of our city of Hallandale Beach.
The Mayor and the City Commission, prompted by the City Manager, have made many terrible policy decisions over the past ten years that have put this city's residents and businesses on edge -and on the hook.
Today, I'm going to share with you a little of what I've learned and expose one of worst decisions ever made at City Hall, a decision that will continue to negatively affect the City’s finances and policy choices for the next 8-10 years.
Prior to September 30, 2001, the City of Hallandale Beach employed a 401K type pension plan for its Professional/Management employees.
On August 8, 2001, encouraged by then-City Manager R. J. Intindola, the City Manager voted to freeze the 401K retirement plan and institute a new DEFINED BENEFIT (DB) plan for the Professional/Management employees.
This policy change was entirely OPPOSITE of the direction that most entities were moving towards ten years ago.
The most damaging part of this particular conversion, not easily found in the supporting documents that were provided to me, was in the “fine print” of these ten-year old records, and here's why it's so damaging to Hallandale Beach's taxpayers and why perhaps the city has NOT made these documents so easy to access.
As they entered the new DB plan, this class of city employees kept their accumulated 401K balances.
When you start a new DB pension plan, it's generally the case that every employee starts out like a “new” employee, with ZERO years of “PRIOR YEARS SERVICE.”
Plain and simple -a new plan, ZERO years of prior service.
But NOT in Hallandale Beach!
In Hallandale Beach, every one of these professional employee started out the new DB plan not with zero, but rather with the number of years of “PRIOR YEARS SERVICE” they'd worked for the City prior to the new plan.
This one item, as best I can determine, has cost the City about $3,602,389 at its start, and the costs have only escalated over the years.
Let me illustrate the unfair and devastating financial effects of this last point by using two well-known employees as examples -former City Managers R.J. Intindola, who was the mastermind behind the new DB plan, and Mike Good.
They were two of the approximately forty (40) employees who were the major beneficiaries of this conversion.
(As an interesting side-note, the incoming HB City Manager, Renee Crichton, served as R.J. Intindola’s Assistant City Manager during the conversion period. Given her position at the time, she clearly had some degree of involvement in the entire process, but nobody on the City Commission inquired into the exact details of her involvement prior to her selection as City Manager. It was yet another missed opportunity for the HB City Commission to get the facts out to the public about the true state of its finances.)
But despite the City Commission agreeing to the very unusual step of counting past service from the start, instead of starting off with ZERO, it was not quite enough of a “gift” to the Professional/Management Employees.
Soon after the new pension plan started, “to improve morale and help recruitment”, and with the full support of City Manager Intindola, the Professional/Management employees asked the HB City Commission to improve their own pension benefits so that they matched those of the Hallandale Beach Police/Firefighters, which would mean granting full retirement benefits at age 52 for all Professional and Management Employees at City Hall.
Despite the preposterous idea of comparing working indoors at HB City Hall with the myriad duties and often risky job responsibilities performed by Police Officers or Firefighters, the HB City Commission agreed to the proposal.
R.J. Intindola worked for the City of Hallandale Beach for 20.67 years, but only one (1) year and one (1) month was under the new DB plan.
When he retired on November 9, 2002, he retired with 20.67 years of service, plus 4 years of “service buy-back”, for a total of 24.67 years of service.
With his average salary of $9,990 per month, due to these changes that he supported and which the City Commission approved, R.J. Intindola now receives $8,107 per month or $97,284 per year that he would not have otherwise received.
That includes the $200 “additional benefit” and $400 “contractual increase” per month, for good measure, until the end of his life.
He retired at age 52 and his life expectancy is 30 more years, therefore Hallandale Beach taxpayers can expect to pay him $2,918,520 (30 times $97.284).
Not too shabby for 13 months of work under the new DB pension plan he managed to shepherd thru the 2001 City Commission, which then consisted of Mayor Dotty Ross and Commissioners Joy Cooper, Bill Julian and Francine Schiller.
Now you may wonder, how much would R.J. Intindola have been entitled to if he did receive that 20 years of prior service years?
He would have been entitled to one (1) year of service plus 4 years of service buy-back equal to five years of service.
The 3.2% per year multiplier would have given him $1,598 per month, plus the $600 additional per month, which comes to $26,380 per year.
That total payout is $791,424 over his lifetime, but that is still $2,127,296 less than what Intindola is now scheduled to receive because the HB City Commission approved the changes without fully considering the long-term consequences of its vote in 2001.
Mike Good worked for the City for 20 years, but when he entered the DROP program on April 1, 2005, he had only 3.5 years under the new DB plan.
He purchased 5 years of service “buyback” to get to his 25 years maximum benefit of $8,672 a month.
Let me help you with the math: that's $104,064 per year, or $3,121,920 over the next 30 years.
Three Million, One Hundred and Twenty-One Thousand, Nine Hundred and Twenty Dollars.
Mike Good should have received 3.5 plus 5, for a total of 8.5 years of prior service.
His average salary was $10,840 a month, therefore he is entitled to $2,948 a month, $35,376 per year.
That is $1,061,280 over his lifetime but is actually $2,060,640 less than what Good is actually scheduled to receive now because of the City Commission votes.
So let's do the math.
These two city employees will cost the City of Hallandale Beach and its taxpayers $4,187,936 more than than they would have cost if our 2001 City Commission of Ross, Cooper, Julian and Schiller would have been smart enough to recognize the terrible misrepresentations of City Manager R.J. Intindola and his paid co-conspirator, consultant Rocky Joiner of The Segal Company, and voted NO.
(City taxpayers paid Mr. Joiner $15,000 for this marvelous retirement option for the very people who recommended him.)
If you were to analyze the rest of the employees covered by the same Defined Benefit pension plan, including our current City Manager Mark A. Antonio, you would be amazed to see the cost of that one obscure little clause in the pension documents.
The total unearned excess cost will be well over Ten Million Dollars.
As we have all watched with increasing dismay and genuine concern what has been taking place at HB City Hall over the past few years, we've all talked many times about the law of “unintended consequences” with respect to actions and votes by the City Commission.
But in my opinion, it was NOT simply an “unintended consequence,” rather it was the intention of the direct beneficiaries of the change -former City Manager R.J.Intindola and his then-assistants- to greatly benefit themselves at the expense of all the taxpayers of Hallandale Beach.
The recent special audit performed by Marcum LLP uncovered some 260 exceptions, mostly in the CRA, but as I have often stated publicly, in my opinion, we desperately need to have an “audit” done of the City Manager’s office.
In the past ten years alone, there have been so many “exceptions” made there that one could write a book about them.
My limited look at personnel decisions made by the City Manager's Office have raised a lot of troubling questions in my own mind, and I happen to be someone who firmly believes that HB taxpayers are entitled to have honest answers to those questions, since the HB City Commission, as presently constructed, is NOT interested in providing reasonable and logical answers to taxpayer's financial questions.
Whether answers to questions about why over-sized raises were given to “special” employees, or what precisely was behind a decision to make a $400,000 settlement with a former city employee to “make someone whole” at retirement time, or many others we still do not know the full answer to.
That's NOT by accident.
Many of us in Hallandale Beach know from personal experience that getting "public" information we're legally entitled to from HB city employees -and City Hall- is like pulling teeth. And it's equally true that unless you know ahead of time precisely what it is you want, very little information is voluntarily offered.
As if that weren't frustrating enough, it frequently seems as if the city intentionally misunderstands or misdirects your questions to further frustrate you.
Though I wish that it weren't true, because it's clearly contrary to this community's best interests, I am confident that the “word” comes down from the very “top” to keep information away from the public like it's a “nuclear secret.”