More on Fees and Property Taxes–Taxes or Fees Will Rise For Sure

Anyone who imagines that property tax rates and revenues will not have to be increased in the city of Coral Gables this year and in the coming budget cycles are dreaming.

There is no one in this crowd of candidates who will be able to stop the pressure to increase tax rates and revenues as property values continue to decline in the face of huge budget liabilities.

Now you are voting on firm increases in taxes( a la Slesnick) or more moderate increases.  Mr. Kerdyk will be reelected and he votes for taxes.  Ms. Anderson plus (say) Cason or Korge plus Rosenblatt or Sanabria will be on the commission.  Well meaning people they are, but they know how to add up revenues and expenses and some are big spenders.

They all mostly want the Mircle Mile/Giralda project so that means more spending.  It takes years to reorganize the Building and Zoning services.  We should charge for the trolley, but Mr. Kerdyk and friends of Miracle Mile will not stand for that.  Be sure that the Biltmore liabilities will not be fixed that easily and taxpayers will continue to subsidize that albatros.  Even with favorable negotiations with police and firefighters (who favor Rosenblatt and Sanabria, maybe others), the impact on pension liabilities is years away.  If Miami-Dade holds the line or reduces property taxes that is another opening for the city of Coral Gables to increase property taxes.

That is why I favor increasing fees across the board with a user-pays approach for fire services, trash, and permits and others, rather than increasing unfair property taxes again and again.

In summary, I hope I am wrong, but the financial problems of the city will take several years to fix, even with a good economy and rising real estate market.

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

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