The City’s View of What Happened: This Deserves Some Comments

From today’s Coral Gables email letter to residents:

City Of Coral Gables Budget Is Approved

On September 29, the City of Coral Gables adopted a budget for fiscal year 2009-2010 which began October 1, 2009 and ends on September 30, 2010. The total budget for this new fiscal year is $147,111,960 — a $2,514,563 decrease when compared to the previous year’s budget of $149,626,523. The City was able to reduce its budget despite significant increases to its operating costs which include rising pension costs and utility rates, among other necessary expenditures. The millage rate, which funds a portion of the budget, was set at 5.895 per $1,000 of taxable value. It’s lower than the rate of 6.150 mills the City had for fiscal year 2007. The current budget is not the cure to all of the City’s financial issues, therefore further belt-tightening and other changes are necessary. Coral Gables, like virtually every city in the United States, is coping with significant financial difficulties. This year is probably the most challenging for cities in a generation.

Employees are working harder to provide quality services with fewer people. Approximately 70 full-time positions were eliminated leaving the City with approximately 800 employees – that’s the fewest number of employees in more than 20 years. As part of the budget, management, professional and technical employees are contributing an additional 5% to the pension system for a cost reduction of approximately $500,000. Firefighters received a 5% pay cut along with other reductions in compensation for a total savings to the City of approximately $1,100,000. Police began contributing 5% of their pay to the pension system. Their pension contribution along with other significant concessions will in the future save the City approximately $1,500,000 annually. Negotiations with the union representing general employees are ongoing.

At 5.895 mills, Coral Gables has one of the lowest rates in Miami-Dade County. Furthermore, out of the total amount of property taxes you pay to the Miami-Dade County Tax Collector’s Office, 38% is directed to the Miami-Dade County Public School System, 32% is directed to Miami-Dade County, 27% goes to the City of Coral Gables and the balance is sent to the State. While the budget has been adopted, the City will continue to evaluate its operations as we strive to preserve the high standards, quality of life and beauty that make Coral Gables a special place.

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

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