Some Basic Budget Questions for the City

There are some big budget questions that have not been answered by the 2010-2011 Estimated Budget, City of Coral Gables.  We don’t know what the basic assumptions have been made about the future of the local economy, assumptions that are very critical for long-term budget planning.

  • Does the city’s management think that the local economy is on the road to recovery? While they may be an occasional blip up in real estate sales, real estate values are not likely to change for many years to come and there is even a risk of both deflation including housing (mentioned by a Federal Reserve Governor recently), an economic slow down (already started), or maybe even a second dip recession (less likely but not impossible).
  • Do the city authorities think that property values will soon started increasing (say) next year? Wouldn’t it be safer to not plan on increases in property values for several years that are greater that any greater than the rate of inflation (now virtually zero).
  • Does the city think that the large pension liability will be reduced without tough negotiations with city staff and their unions.  There is no sign of a get tough policy but one of increasing property taxes yet again.
  • Why are the highest paid city staff insulated from serious reductions in salaries and pension including the city manager and his senior staff.  They should take at least a 8 percent salary reduction this year.
  • Why are firefighters and police not taking important salary and pension reductions or cuts in staff positions?
  • How much are more are taxpayers going pay to have to pay to cover what from the Biltmore Hotel owes the city?
  • What has the museum cost the city?
  • Why has it taken so long to get around to important reorganizations in city government?

Maybe there are answers to these questions in the budget but they are hard to find.

Please suggest some more questions for the Commissioners and the City Manager.

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

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