CFO fired as small town plans to leave Broward sheriff’s office – Sun Sentinel

PEMBROKE PARK – As the small town of Pembroke Park faces uncertainty over a costly decision to create a new police force, it has fired one of the plan’s vocal critics – a high-level employee helping oversee finances.

The city fired Chief Financial Officer Harry Taubenfeld Wednesday night after months of public wrangling over whether the money was there to leave the Broward sheriff’s office and start its own police department.

The Pembroke Park Police Department came close to reality even though a consultant’s report on whether this was possible was not returned.

On Wednesday, the city swore in the first three officers of its new force, one of its most public moves yet in its effort to sever its relationship with the sheriff’s office.

Lawyers argued that the sheriff’s contract continues to rise in cost, while city leaders believe they can do it for less money and better service.

The city administration blamed bad behavior by firing the chief financial officer, while Taubenfeld debated for months whether the new police department was even possible. Taubenfeld had argued with executives when he alleged the police chief had submitted “miscalculations” and that his budget was “wrong”.

“You’re looking at the wrong information, the numbers aren’t correct,” Taubenfeld told commissioners at a town hall meeting in January, especially as the chief submitted a proposal for a $5,000 annual salary increase. for the whole department.

In December, Taubenfeld emailed the city’s human resources, complaining “there was a coordinated attack on me” from city leaders. Taubenfeld had been sent home a week ago for a paid suspension which Mayor Geoffrey Jacobs said was due to “behavioral issues”.

On Thursday, the chief financial officer said he had no idea he had been fired. “You’re the first person to tell me that,” he told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “No one informed me.”

Plans for a new police department have been filled with drama from the start, as the start date has been continually pushed back. Projected costs to start the department fluctuated wildly, and the city administration criticized Chief David Howard for adding costs past his initial financial projections. Efforts by City Administrator Juan Carlos “JC” Jimenez in January to have Howard fired failed.

Mayor Jacobs lobbied for the city to leave the Broward Sheriff’s Office and have its own police department. He said the consultant’s report will show that there must be five officers per shift, which increases costs, even though the budget only proposes two.

Jacobs said that in the event of a tragedy, the Pembroke Park Police Department may seek help from nearby towns. But critics have argued that his plan could leave the agency regularly understaffed and dependent on other agencies.

Earlier this year, the city hired a law enforcement consultant for $48,000 to determine what the true long-term costs of the police department would be and what the city should do next. The final report is expected by the end of the month.

Lisa J. Huriash can be reached at [email protected] or 954-572-2008 or Twitter @LisaHuriash