Coral Gables Taxes and Staffing: Much More to Do

Take a look at the last few pages of the 2010-2011 Budget Estimate where there is some historical information.

Some salient facts there are

  • Property values increased 2.44 times in the period 2000 to 2009.
  • Property taxes increased 2.25 times from 2000 to 2009.
  • In the period 2000 to 2006 (during the most rapid property value increases), property values increased 1.93 times.
  • In the period 2000 to 2006, property taxes have increased 2.19 times.
  • In the period 2000 to 2006 total staff in Coral Gables declined as follows:  871 ( 2006), 875 (2007), 868 (2008), 808 (2009) and  791 (estimated 2010).

In short, on average, property taxes have followed assessed values in Coral Gables since the year 2000.  Rapid increases in property values were used by the city to raise taxes and increase staffing and spending as if this phenomenon was to continue without limit.  And following the stagnation and decline in property values, the city has increased taxes faster that assessed values.

The city has reduced the number of staff, but many of them are at the lowest  grade salary levels. Operating expenses, closely capturing staff salary and benefit expenses, have remained stable at $131.3 million (2007), $136.0 million (2008), $132.0 million (2009), and are expected to decline to $127.7 million (estimated budget 2010).

The number of staff has been reduced by 9.6% but the city’s operating expenses only fell by 3.1%.

This indicates that a much greater effort is needed to increase city efficiencies and reduce salary and pension costs.  When will the Commission get around to do this–this doesn’t seem to be the year.

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

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