The Kerdyk Tax

This is just a bit of history for our citizens.

On September 30, the City Commission of the City of Coral Gables passed a property tax millage increase of 5. 895 (a technical name for a tax rate per 1000 units) that is a 12 percent higher rate than last year.  During the budget debate, Vice Mayor Kerdyk suffered publicly through several iterations of what he said he would and would not accept.   Commissioner Cabrera indicated he would only accept the TRIM rate (the rate that would produce the same total tax revenues as the previous year) of 5.65; and the Vice Mayor wanted a rate 5.795, more or less between the upper end proposed by the Mayor/City Manager of 6.10 initially and 5.995 later, and the lower TRIM rate.  No one dared to mention last year’s actual millage rate of 5.25.  Also, the City Manager (reading between the lines) threatened to shift the blame for future financial problems and the firing of police officers to Messrs. Kerdyk and Cabrera, which caused them great consternation. The initial “Mayor/City Manager millage rate” would have represented about a 20 percent increase in property taxes.  The minimum TRIM rate in itself represented on the order of a 7.6 percent tax increase in taxes, and a tax on no small number for people on fixed incomes, declining property values, slow businesses, unemployed and those with a questionable ability to pay their bills (including mortgages, taxes and insurance).

But good taxpayers and (the many fewer actual) voters should note for the history books:

  • Not a single commissioner was willing to hold the line on last year’s tax rates;
  • Property taxes were ultimately increased by 12 percent, being one of the few municipalities that has been able to squeeze its taxpayers hard during an economic crisis (apparently because of voter apathy);
  • Nevertheless, Messrs. Kerdyk and Cabrera wanted, at the very least, to increase taxes by 7.6 to 10 percent;
  • Messrs. Kerdyk and Cabrera urgently needed to shift the blame for the final tax increase to someone, and that someone was the City Manager Salerno;
  • Mr. Kerdyk should thank Mr. Salerno for concocting a budget that threatened to gut public safety services (with any number of police officer position reductions) and this gave Kerdyk and Cabrera an excellent excuse to raise taxes above the TRIM rate.  (This is the 9/11 effect since the politicians who don’t approve wars and anti-terrorist measures are blamed for all future terror attacks.  Thus every future crime will be blamed on Messrs. Kerdyk and Cabrera should they vote to lower taxes too much.);
  • Mayor Slesnick and Commissioners Anderson and Withers were anxious to increase the millage rate as high as politically possible to 20 percent;
  • But ,simultaneously with the budget discussion, the Mayor and Commissioners Anderson and Withers approved a new fire fee on residences and commercial properties that will raise between $1.5 and $2.0 million annually and it can be increased each year without further community consultation.  (That is the Biltmore Fee since the fire fee will try to cover the failure of the Biltmore to pay its debts to the city.)
  • Hence, the real tax increase (including the fire fee) was quite close to the “Mayor/City Manager rate” of 5.995 after all!

This has been a story of political theater in the City of Coral Gables.

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

One Response to The Kerdyk Tax

  1. lois says:

    I AM SO BEYOND SICK OF THE CRITERIA BEING “WELL ,HOW WILL IT PLAY IN POLITICS?”. SHOULDN’T THE CRITERIA BE WHAT WOULD BE GOOD FOR THE CITIZENS OF CORAL GABLES? ISN’T THIS WHAT THEY WERE ELECTED FOR? TO REPRESENT OUR INTERESTS? AND RAISING OUR TAXES BY 12% TO PAY EMPLOYEE BENEFITS AND WAGES AND TO COVER UP THEIR MISTAKES IS NOT IN OUR INTEREST.

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