“Mysterious” Budget Deficit Revealed: Fire the Finance Director

The Miami Herald reports that the City of Coral Gables has a huge ongoing budget deficit for this fiscal year (October 2008-September 2009) that will require immediate staff firings.

City Manager Pat Salerno said Thursday he discovered the $9.2 million deficit — about 7 percent of the city’s budget — last week and that he likely will eliminate jobs, among other measures.

Salerno also noted the city projects an estimated $7 million shortfall next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

Both figures could get worse after June 1 — when the property appraiser releases preliminary property values on which taxes are based.

”Those could go down,” Salerno said, referring to an expection that property values decrease this year. “That could further increase the projected shortfall for next year.”

The current budget shortfall is due to decreased revenues and increased personnel-related costs, said Salerno, who learned of the shortfall on Friday, the day two reelected commissioners were inducted.

There is strong concern among citizens that the deficit was “discovered” on the day of the re-election of the new commissioners. Among other things, it is possible that the outcome of the Sanabria-Anderson election might have changed if this budget shortfall was known at the time of the election.

It is surprising that any good finance director would not have known the existence of this deficit early in the fiscal year. In this regard, the Director of Finance would be a good candidate to be fired.

About Stephen E. McGaughey
International consultant in economic development programs and projects

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