Thursday, August 12, 2010

Police Chief Contract and The Rest of the Meeting

Yesterday, I promised the rest of the news from the commission meeting last night. I am not going linearly since the key to understanding the rest of the meeting and yesterday's post is in the contract drafted but not yet approved for the new police chief. I'll start with that which was the first item on the agenda. (The contract in its entirety is at the end of the post.)

The contract is only the sort of agreement that could be drawn up in government. This agreement would never fly in any responsible private concern. The highlights:

  • The proposed base salary is $109,000.
  • Five weeks vacation upon signing the contract, credited immediately and an additional five floating holidays.
  • Car for unlimited personal use.
  • Fully paid personal and family medical.
  • Sick time on top of the vacation time but not specified.

Termination Clause - If the City terminates the police chief for reasons other than "cause", which seems to refer to criminal convictions and behavior unspecified in the contract, the chief gets Six Month's Notice and Three Month's Termination. Nine full months of pay.

This is a cut and paste of the same contracts that have hobbled our budget.

It was also the first item on the commission meeting agenda. The contract itself was delivered to the commissioners and the mayor at 7:50 PM while they were on the dais and as they were asked to vote on the contract. The commission agreed to postpone the item until they at least had a chance to read it.

Draw your own conclusions here about why this was not shared before the meeting.

Now I mentioned yesterday's post about the weird and unexplained controversy of using the funds from the red light cameras to save three sworn officers. I am no longer wondering why. The intention for this money was to pay this extravagant contract from the red light funds and then claim it was "budget neutral." That's why the tantrum on the dais.

Audit Report - Last year's audit, 2009, was finally delivered. The short version is that no significant problems were found, but that the city needs to reconcile the funds accounting monthly.

Funds accounting is unique to government and nonprofits. Simply put, it shows not just what we spent and what we received, but the source of the money spent. Example, if we have $400,000 in an account, from three sources, and write a check for $150,000, that check should note which source funded this check. This is to prevent moneys being used for purposes prohibited by law and policy. For example, the city can't use the grant funds for general operations. North Bay Village is subject to error and revocation of funds if we cannot clearly prove the source of the money dispersed.

The big surprise is that the city is not reconciling these accounts right now. A suggestion was made that several years of reconciliation be done by an outside firm. Now the funds have to be reconciled or we could face catastrophic penalties and have to refund large blocks of grant money. Whether we need to have an outside firm do it or our accounting department does it in house is another question.


The Hiring Freeze -
At the last commission meeting, the commission voted unanimously to put a freeze on hiring. It was brought up for reconsideration at this meeting because it is stopping the employment of a full time code enforcer. Or at least that's what was explained. The resolution was quite clear that the commission could override the hiring freeze on a case by case basis.

The truth is this was put in to stop the North Bay Village Trujillo Tax, whereby every time former vice mayor Rey Trujillo gets annoyed with someone, we hire a duplicate to do that employee's work. If the city manager proposes a new hire, he can bring the proposal to the commission and the commission can vote on the proposal. No great inconvenience and one that most responsible corporations implement from time to time. It simply requires a greater burden of proof that the position is urgent. The motion was postponed.

Public Safety Complex - We are still renting City Hall, about to move to the Lexi at a cost around $180,000. We have had bond issues available to us for at least two years but no progress on building the combined Fire Station, Police Station and City Hall. Well, Commissioner Kane found that the police station at the Lexi is inappropriate for its purpose. He blamed this on the previous city manager, failing to mention that the Lexi deal was his and he was found in violation of the Miami-Dade Ethics Charter when he contracted for compensation for the move. That was cute.

Anyway, this time Kane proposed that he lead negotiations to build a fire and police station only with the county and alluded to other possible properties available for the city hall construction. The other four commissioners just looked embarrassed about Kane involved in another real estate deal and quietly postponed the motion.

The next meeting, originally planned to be a budget hearing will also deal with these items above. It's scheduled for August 23.

Here's the Police Chief's Proposed Contract:

Police Chief

Kevin Vericker
August 12, 2010

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