By: Sharon Aron Baron
In our 50th Anniversary video, Tamarac’s highest-paid employee, City Manager Michael Cernech, boasts about our great city, but would he ever move his family to the “City of Your Life?”
Not on your life.
Students who enter a new video contest telling why Tamarac is the city of your life will win a free lunch with him. Maybe they can explain to him why they enjoy living here and attending our schools.
I like Michael Cernech. He’s never been inconsiderate to me. I felt bad for him as I watched Patte Atkins-Grad give him neck massages at a community meeting while he sat and cringed. Sitting next to her, when no one else would, was his job. Atkins-Grad was one of the five people on the commission that could hire or fire Cernech, and I’m sure working for her was no easy task.
Cernech, who has been with the City of Tamarac since 2001, knows our city well. He spent four years as our finance director, assistant city manager, and deputy city manager until he was hired as the city manager unanimously by the Mayor and City Commissioners in 2010.
What Cernech doesn’t say while praising Tamarac as a “great place to raise a family” in the 50th Anniversary video this spring was that he set his sights outside the “City for your Life” and moved his family into a $570,000 home in Parkland in 2009.
Earning a starting salary of $202,500 which included a three percent raise every year and health and dental insurance, paid for by the city, Cernech also receives an $800-a-month car allowance, $120-a-month cell phone allowance, and a $1 million life insurance policy. The city also provides him with equipment to work from home, his Parkland home, including a laptop, iPad, and digital camera.
Why would our city manager have to look further than our beautiful city to raise his family? Surely, the money our tax dollars pay him could stay inside our city. Erdal Donmez, City Manager of Coral Springs, lives in the city that he works in. Why wouldn’t Cernech?
Cernech says in the video, “Tamarac has some of the best neighborhoods in Broward County. We’ve got wonderful parks, beautiful open spaces, we’ve got great recreational facilities, outstanding sports leagues, for adults and youths. We’ve got A-rated schools. We’ve got great Charter Schools. We’ve got wonderful educational opportunities for all ages, and we have a business community that brings its employees to the city of Tamarac every single day, so much so that many of those employees, after working in Tamarac, choose to call Tamarac home……”
Except for our own city manager, who checks out every evening and heads back home to Parkland.
Let me be clear: living in the city that one manages is not a requirement of a city manager. However, choosing not to live in the city where he has worked for over a decade gives the impression he may not believe in the product he is selling in the video. How can we feel confident that he will lead us to the future with any positive change if he doesn’t have a vested interest here?
I have since learned that the City of Lauderhill has a provision in their charter that requires their City Manager to live in the city. If they are hired and live elsewhere, they are given a reasonable time to move in. This doesn’t prohibit having a second home.