City Deficit “Discovered” by City Manager–What does that Mean?

The new city manager of Coral Gables said that he “found” a current multi-million dollar deficit.

Coral Gables is more than $9 million in the red.

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.

What does “discover” mean in this case. Was the deficit known by the staff, the city Finance Director and others in the Finance Department, or was the fact “unknown” until the new city manager undertook certain analyses of the budget situation. In any case wouldn’t the existence of the deficit have been known by responsible city officials (based on the efficient computer system), the Commission and the staff have known it for many, many weeks. This suggests that the deficit was hidden from the new city manager since the very moment he was being interviewed for the job. Wouldn’t the issue of one of his biggest challenges have been discussed with the city manager during the interview and salary negotiation process. One would hope that this would have been the case.

One must conclude that a serious city fiscal deficit (7 percent) was known by one and all senior staff for some time and that it was withheld from public knowledge and knowledge of the new city manager for reasons there may have been at the time.

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

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