My Summary Comments to the Commission

–As I have stated in my letter to the Commission, I am opposed to more taxes and new fews.

–Some Commission members may regard criticism of the budget as a personal attack on them. Said plainly, you are hearing many legitimate, and seriously concerned taxpayers today.

–We have heard very little reaction from the Commission about the financial well being of its citizens. We would like to hear the Commission talk about the impact of the tax and fees on our citizens–on our families budgets that are tight and, indeed, family budgets that are just as important to us as the City’s budget. I think there should be a better parity between Coral Gables’ budget and taxpayers, family and business budgets.

–Many people are against new fees. There are big differences between user fees, such as typical construction and permit fees, and the so-called fire fees–the fire fees are outright and open-ended taxes, not user fees. User fees are good policy—but fire fees are a way to get around regular citizen oversight.

–Why do the Commission’s Straight Talk letters so vehemently defend new taxes and spending, and all of the City’s Departments, many of which have been questioned as inefficient and bloated.

–Let us be clear–even if all of the Departments were extremely important and highly efficient, they would still have to be cut way back to meet the financial realities of the City.

–If you want a large IT Department or Public Works Department that is just fine, but you can’t have them all when there is not enough money to go around. It is time for serious austerity, setting of priorities and bigger staff cut backs.

–The budget shortfalls are unfortunate but they are not the sole result of the bad economy. Yes, it is the bad economy that triggered the crisis, but, be certain, the City’s crisis would have happened soon or later. Why would it have happened sooner or later? Because the crisis is a result of over spending, and questionable management and oversight.

–If good and conservative budget management had materialized in the last 7 years, the City could have absorbed the economic problems without too much sacrifice. So first let’s fix the spending, management and oversight–only then will we come out of the City’s budget crisis.

–In short, it is time to re-dimension our government services, now we should only be paying for the most critical and essential services at fair, market salaries and benefits.

–Follow the lead of Miami-Dade County. It is time to control government spending, and the time is now, not next year or the year after.

–As many of us are convinced–Commissioners–“No more taxes, and no new fees”.

Thank you for your attention.

About Stephen E. McGaughey
Resident of the City of Coral Gables

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