Hallandale’s ex-top managers collect fat pensions from retirement plan they pushed a decade ago

By William Gjebre, BrowardBulldog.org  

A short-lived, perk-laden retirement plan has paid off big for some top Hallandale Beach officials who helped set it up a decade ago – but today it’s costing city taxpayers extra millions of dollars.

Approved and implemented by the city commission in October 2001, the plan’s key provision granted those ranking city officials retroactive credit for prior years of service – even if they were in another retirement plan.

The Professional Management Retirement Plan also boosted pensions for top city bureaucrats in other costly ways. For example, the plan was calculated to equate the sedentary desk jobs of department heads and their assistants to the “high risk” street duties of city police and firefighters.

City commissioners were also eligible for the plan, but because their pay was so low, and their length of service varied, the financial impact was minimal.

Three former city managers who played key roles in developing the retirement plan or subsequent add-on benefits are now collecting pensions that are at or near their highest annual salaries when they were active city employees.

Ex-city manager Mike Good was fired in 2010 after eight years due to his chronic work absences and for other reasons. Today, at age 51, Good receives a monthly pension of $17,522, or more than $210,000 a year. His highest regular salary was $212,000.

But a higher monthly pension isn’t the only way that Good and his fellow city managers have benefitted from the management retirement plan.

Good, who started working for the city as a welder in the 1980s, cashed out $786,000 from his city DROP (Deferred Retirement Option Plan) savings account a few months before he departed. The account, established under the retirement plan, was funded largely by the city.

Good also received another $146,000 in accrued sick leave, vacation time and other benefits when he left.

The city commission closed the retirement plan, including the DROP program, to new employees in 2007 citing exorbitant costs. City records indicate that about 70 employees, active and inactive, are eligible to receive benefits under the plan that initially required employees contribute five percent of their salary, but was later hiked to seven percent.

“It’s outrageous: fat, oversized pensions,” said Csaba Kulin, a community activist and city commission candidate. “This was mismanagement…employees should not have gotten credit for past years of service. They should have begun accumulating benefits when the plan went into effect. It’s undue compensation.”

The pension disclosures come as the Broward Inspector General’s Office continues its investigation into suspected mismanagement and fraud involving city loans to local businesses and questionable land purchases by the city’s commission-run Community Redevelopment Agency.

PAYOUTS JACKED UP

Payouts to top city workers were further jacked up by management plan provisions that reduced the full retirement age from 60 to 52 with 25 years of service, inserted regular cost of living increases, and allowed workers to purchase additional years of service for time they didn’t actually work.

Some top employees also received two pensions because they were allowed to keep 10-17% of gross salary contributions by the city in the previous retirement plan.

Some details of the Professional Management Retirement Plan are unclear. BrowardBulldog.org asked the city clerk’s office to provide commission minutes and documents regarding the authorization of retroactive service credit for employees prior to October 2001, but was told those records are “not available.”

Mark Antonio, 56, is a former city finance director who succeeded Good as city manager in 2010 and retired at the end of June. In 2001, he explained aspects of the retirement plan to commissioners before it was approved. He now receives a monthly pension of $10,645, or $127,800 annually. City records state that his highest base city salary was $165,000.

Like Good, Antonio accumulated a considerable city-funded nest egg in his DROP account: $744,637 by July 31, 2012, according to city records. City officials said he was also due about another $100,000 for unused sick and vacation days and other earned benefits.

Ex-City Manager Mike Good

Randolph J. “R.J.” Intindola, under whose administration the retirement plan was adopted, retired as city manager in 2002. He receives a monthly pension of $9,308, or $111,700 annually. His highest base city salary was $118,664.

Intindola, now 61, retired a year after the plan was implemented citing health concerns. At the time, the plan did not allow him to have a DROP account. He did receive a payment of $139,000 for accrued sick, vacation and other benefits, according to city documents.

Two city commissioners who backed the plan in 2001 now wish they hadn’t.

“My thinking today is ‘no,’ ” said Commissioner Dorothy Ross. “We can’t go back to that time.”

William Julian, who left the commission but is now running again, said he had “no experience with pensions” when the matter was brought up years ago by City Manager Intindola and staff. He said they told him the plan was “normal” for top city officials.

“Looking back, we should never have offered the plan,” said Julian, especially the granting of credit for past years of service. “I was new,” Julian said. “It sounded logical and we took staff at their word, but I wouldn’t take it now.”

The cost of the plan is in the millions, said Julian. He added that cost includes the $900-a-month he began to receive last year. He was credited for service on the commission from 2001 until 2010 when he was not reelected.

Mayor Joy Cooper, who has been on the commission since 1999, was the lone vote against the plan back in 2001. “I did not feel comfortable,” she said.

She said she also now opposes the idea of equating top management jobs to those of police and firefighters – something she voted to approve in 2003.

“Police and firefighters are in a different category,” Cooper said. “They put their lives on the line.”

EX-CITY MANAGERS LIKE THE PLAN

Each of the three former city managers defended the management retirement plan, though only Intindola acknowledged that it has elevated costs to taxpayers by millions of dollars.

“Absolutely, it was okay,” said Antonio, who got retroactive credit for the 14.25 years he worked for the city before the plan went into effect in 2001. He also purchased an additional five years of service credit at a cost of 8% of salary for each year purchased.

Without credit for those 14.25 years, Antonio’s pension would be about 57% lower. Without those years and the extra years he purchased, his pension would be approximately 77% lower.

Antonio said commissioners implemented the management retirement plan to address a lack of fairness regarding pensions for top managers. At the time, the city was contributing 10 to 17 percent of gross salary to their 401a retirement accounts.

Intindola agreed. “It was a good thing,” he said. “We had to improve the [existing] plan; we had a high turnover.”

Intindola began working for the city in February 1982. He received nearly 20 years of retroactive credit under the management retirement plan, and also bought another four years of service.

Without those nearly 24 years of credit, Intindola’s pension would be about 96 percent lower.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

The 2001 switch to the management retirement plan was not supposed to be costly, Intindola said. The amount the city was then paying in benefits was expected to cover most of the new plan.

But changes made after he left, including the addition of a cost of living adjustment (COLA), and a guaranteed 8 percent annual increase to DROP accounts, proved to be “a killer” – driving up annual pension costs by $2 million, Intindola said.

Radu Dodea, a Hallandale personnel official who administers the management pension plan, said he has no estimate as to how much the city will have to pay management plan participants over their lifetimes.

But city activist and commission candidate Kulin said those cost estimates are exorbitant. He estimated the long-term cost to city taxpayers for the years of service and other benefits total about $10 million.

A city financial report from 2002 obtained by BrowardBulldog.org stated those payouts could amount to nearly $9 million. The report said the initial estimate for unfunded costs, including covering past years of service for employees, was approximately $1.7 million.

The change that Intindola said caused the city’s costs to spike occurred while Good was city manager.

Good, unlike the other ex-city managers, said he did not receive retroactive credit for years of service because he had been in the General Employees Pension Plan since the day he started in March 1985. He switched to the management plan for its superior benefits when it was approved in 2001 and transferred money he and the city previously contributed. By then he was director of Public Works.

It was also under Good in 2007 that the management plan was finally shutdown for new employees.

“The economy went kaput and defined pension plan costs were rising and they wanted to cut costs,” city Human Resources director George Amiraian said.

Print Friendly
8 Comments Post a Comment
  1. FrustratedInHallandale says:

    Hi Bill,
    Let me get this straight you gave away millions in 2001 and keep voting to give Mike Good more pension benefits in 2004 two bonus in 2006 and 2007 and you still want us to believe staff snookered you each and every time.

    Please Bill, tell me why anyone would possibility vote for you?

    Yes Bill you are a nice guy, but dumb and I do not support stupid!

    William Julian, said he had “no experience with pensions” when the matter was brought up years ago by City Manager Intindola and staff.

    “Looking back, we should never have offered the plan,” said Julian, especially the granting of credit for past years of service. “I was new,” Julian said. “It sounded logical and we took staff at their word, but I wouldn’t take it now.”

    One last question Bill are you voting to make commission salaries $75,000 again this time around like you did in 2007, or did staff pull a fast one on you again with that motion and vote?

  2. Bill, I would be interested in knowing why you intentionally omitted the fact that Keith London, according to sources pushed his way into the same pension plan? Is that not hypocrisy? He criticizes others for doing the same thing he does. That is not emblematic of quality leadership necessary to assume the role of Mayor. London the hypocrite.

  3. FrustratedInHallandale says:

    Hi RJ,

    Please tell everyone how Keith London pushed his way into a plan that was approved in 2001 under your “reign” and expanded again by Cooper and Julian in 2004.

    Keith London came onto the city commission in 2006. Where is the push?

    By anyone’s calculation that is a least two years and most likely four years after you snookered Julian.

    Where are your documents backing up the false claim you just made?

    What’s the matter RJ a little worried about the document (your $9,308 monthly statement) attached to this Bulldog article showing where you where only in the plan for less than two years but are vested for twenty years of service?

    WOW, two years in a plan and vested for twenty years of service!

    RJ please show us your documents explaining how that could ever work anywhere other than Hallandale under Cooper and Julian!

    Here is Bill’s quote just for you RJ:

    “Looking back, we should never have offered the plan,” said Julian, especially the granting of credit for past years of service. “I was new,” Julian said.

  4. Frustrated, I usually don’t respond to people who hide behind a screen name. I’ll an exception in this case. You are incorrect that the city gave millions away in 2001. The plan cost under added an additional $100,000 the first two years. After the first two years, the new plan was projected to cost about $40,000 more than the old plan. City audit reports substantiate these figures. So, get off your erroneous statement about 2001. The changes to the plan in 2003-2004 added nearly two million dollars. Additional benefits included a guarantee of 8% to all participants in the drop. That provision alone obligated the city to pay non-controllable costs. A year before this the unions received the 8% guarantee and the commission later added management. So, the management plan, alone did not have the impact of police and fire, but nonetheless, substantially increased the cost.
    Look at this assumption-
    100 people in the drop X $100,000 X 8% = $800,000
    I was never in the drop as the city manager was not permitted while I was employed by the city.
    Joy Cooper dropped out of the plan when she realized what occurred while Keith London when asked to also drop out refused. If that is not hypocrisy, I don’t know what is. As a participant in the plan, Keith London, is the last person to point his finger at others.
    And to Bill Julian, you should not be running from the 2001, plan, but instead the 2004 plan.
    And Mr. Gjebre, this statement is an uninformed assumption; “Without those nearly 24 years of credit, Intindola’s pension would be about 96 percent lower.” I also contributed more than the city to a deferred comp plan for many years. And how could I have 24 years of credit when I only worked for the city for 21 years?

  5. Csaba Kulin says:

    I have researched Management Pension Plan for two years. I have all the documents made available to me by the city. I did not find anywhere the City Commission approved the prior year of service before the pension plan actually started.

    The plan started in 2001 and R J Intindola should be receiving 13 months plus 4 years of time purchased. That is a bit over 5 years, not almost 25 years. R J Intindola should receive his 401K retirement, which is a lot less generous, prior to 2001 years of service.

    I have been looking for two years for the authorization to give credit for “back service” years.
    I was not able to find it for one reason. There is none.

    The City Commission approved the plan but NOT the “prior service years”. I have no proof YET but I suspect it was approved, without City Commission’s OK, by the then City Manager R J Intindola. As far as know, R J Intindola was the first beneficiary of his decision.

    This is not the end of the story. Will Hallandale Beach try to “claw back” and stop paying out ill-gotten pension payments? Will the Broward Inspector General look at the issue? Will the Hallandale Beach City Commission just say “let us forget about the past and concentrate on the mistakes we will make in the future” or we are going to get to the bottom of this. I will tell you after November 6, 2012
    He is the “smoking gun” from the current City Manager.

    Hello Mr. Kulin,
    I apologize for the delayed response but I wanted to be 100% sure that this information as correct. The city does not have an item that speaks directly to the credit of back time. I have attached for you all the documentation associated with formal actions adopting the management pension plan for you review.
    Renee C. Crichton
    City Manager
    City of Hallandale Beach

  6. FrustratedInHallandale says:

    Hi again RJ,

    You and Cooper talk and never answer the questions.

    Let’s try again:

    Question 1:

    Please tell everyone how Keith London pushed his way into a plan that was approved in 2001 under your “reign” and expanded again by Cooper and Julian in 2004.

    Keith London came onto the city commission in 2006. Where is the push?

    Question 2:

    By anyone’s calculation that is a least two years and most likely four years after you snookered Julian.

    Where are your documents backing up the false claim you just made?

    Question 3.

    WOW, two years in a plan and vested for twenty years of service!

    RJ please show us your documents explaining how that could ever work anywhere other than Hallandale under Cooper and Julian!

    Simple questions for a simple little man.

    Save the BS this time just provide DOCUMENTS.

    Yes documents RJ!

  7. Louise Parsons says:

    Being somewhat “new” the this issue of Management Pension Plans I have a statement to make as a concerned citizren of HB.

    I have always been under thre impression that if you were running for a spot on the “Board” of your condo, coop, home owner’s assoc., town, city or village you were doing so because of a genuine interest in the progress and betterment for the residents – not for personal gain.

    After attending several meetings it is quite obvious that the only one who truly fits that description is Keith London. Just because he exercises his right to a “No” vote does not mean he’s only trying to be antagonistic towards Joy Cooper or the other members of the Commission. I believer Keith is truly the right candidate to protec the residents and serve our city.

    I also believe Csaba Kulin has been as strong an advocate for the betterment of Hallandale Beach than many who sit on the dais and who are supposed to be looking out for our best interest as residents of the city. He truly deserves to serve as a Commissioner with his continuing interest and knowledge.

    We deserve to have new beginnings in Hallandale Beach and they will only come with the election of Keith London, Csaba Kulin, and Michelle Lazerow.

    Please get out and vote for these people who will make our city a better place to live, work and play.

    Ms. Lou Parsons,
    President
    Islander, Inc.

  8. Neil Albert says:

    I’ve received political mailings that state:
    1. State that Joy Cooper was the sole vote against this pension plan,
    2. That Joy Cooper voted to approve the same pension plan.

    Obviously, one of these political mailings is a lie. Question is: which one?

Leave a Reply




Welcome to Broward Bulldog

Broward Bulldog Archives