New city manager hired; police chief to retire
Cameron Benson now responsible for City’s daily operations
D. Kevin McNeir | 10/31/2013, 9 a.m.
A former Hollywood city manager who stepped down after facing heated criticism of his job in overseeing the City’s ballooning budget deficit of $10.3M, has been hired to take over as city manager for Miami Gardens. Cameron Benson, 51, who resigned in June 2011, had been at the job since 2002. He also had been under a federal investigation after whistle-blowers alleged that he had taken bribes from a waste company seeking a City contract. The Hollywood native was later cleared of any wrongdoings but says it “taught me a lot about myself.”
“I certainly learned who I was personally and professionally — to have been accused of certain things and have your name surrounded with such allegations which were all proven to be false, makes you a different person,” he said.
“Everything that was brought up as either as an accusation, an allegation or a lie, or otherwise, has been addressed and put to bed. I believe from my standpoint as a professional I have moved on.”
Benson, who was first employed by the City of Hollywood in 1995 and has family members who have lived in both Hollywood and Miami Gardens for many years, did not leave his former city manager’s job empty-handed. He got a severance package of close to $300K, according to public record and additional salary and vacation compensation because his departure was an ‘agreed termination.’
Benson has been in City Hall since April, working as one of two assistant city managers but was hired last week after the mayor and city commission extended him a contract. He says his tasks will include but not be limited to the following: responsible for daily city management; continuing a CRA study that he has already begun whose findings he will present before the end of the year; making organizational changes to streamline functions and improve efficiency; promoting the business community while encouraging them to be more proactive and to work more in concert with the Greater Miami Gardens Chamber of Commerce; and analyzing economic and redevelopment opportunities along 27th Avenue, particularly the 441 corridor and industrial sections.
“My goal is to build the best team for the best city,” he added.
“I recommended Cameron Benson because of his experience in government and his willingness to serve the community,” said Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert. “I believe that he will be a breath of fresh air to the residents and city government alike. I know that he is the city manager that will ably take us forward in the coming years.”
Benson to look for new police chief
Benson added that in addition to his other tasks and goals, his first order of business is to begin to look for a new police chief. According to Benson, Chief Matt Boyd recently announced his retirement effective January 2014.
“The Mayor is aware that the police chief is leaving next year and he is aware that it is a priority hiring for the City of Miami Gardens,” Benson added.
Boyd was not available for comment.