Coral Gables Can’t Manage The Biltmore

I have written before that the city of Coral Gables has no business owning a large, historic hotel, and the last few years have shown us is that the city is over its head. The city management have been incapable of auditing and managing the hotel’s lease.

Perhaps the hotel should be returned to the federal government and the National Park Service, which has the policies and the money to keep track of what is happening at the hotel without getting itself tied up in unseemly relations with the hotel’s management.

The city will not have the resources and willpower in the future to keep track of the Biltmore, even if it wins a costly legal battle with the lessee, and we will then return to the same problem again.  Certainly, the Biltmore is a great asset for Miami-Dade county, but the city of Coral Gables is too small an operation to care for its historic qualities.

Doubts On The Budget For The City of Coral Gables

The follow summarizes my doubts about the budget and where we stand with city taxing and financing.  My largest concern is that this budget assumes that the economy will come roaring back along with tax revenues.  This is completely wrong–we are headed into multiple years of slow growth, unemployment and underemployment and a shortage of State and Federal funding to mitigate local problems.
The city is basically holding taxes steady this year, when they should be reduced.
  • tax rates–still too high and they should be cut to help local taxpayers.  Taxpayers are not getting any real relief with the current proposal for a minuscule tax rate cut.
  • staffing–staffing reductions havestagnated and certain staffing is being increased to manage the so-called renaissance plan.
  • unfunded pension liabilities–these liabilities are still quite high (about $200 million) and management has elected to pay in the minimum legally required contribution.  When will the city pay them off.  Is the city praying for a sustained stock market recovery.
  • The debt surge seems wrong in the face of the other problems of the city.  These monies are needed to pay unfunded health benefits and pensions.
  • When will the unresolved Biltmore lease dispute get resolved.  We are out of pocket substantial funds that are being paid for by taxpayers–that in part explains the trivial tax cut planned for this year.
  • The Miracle Mile is stagnant if not in plain decline relative to other shopping centers.
  • The city has the practice of promoting over spending on unproductive public works, museums, i.e., the renaissance investment plan and debt surge.
  • The real estate market will be stagnant for years to come.  Right?
  • Incomes and employment will stagnate in South Florida for years ahead.

Coral Gables 2011 Budget–First Impressions

My first impression in one of some relief that the city manager is proposing a tax rate reduction–actually it is a tiny reduction, so let us call this holding taxes that same as last year.

My second impression is that this budget is very expansionary by making such a small reduction in taxes.

The city took from us quite a large increase in taxes last year, so one would have hoped that the city would have given that increase back, just like Miami-Dade county.

We would have hoped for larger staff reductions and operating cost reductions at this time.

Therefore, tied with the proposal for a large investment program that will have to be repaid in 20 years (instead of the refinanced debt in four years),  this is a very agressive expansionary budget that will come back to bite use in the coming years.

 

 

 

Budget Letter from City Manager City of Coral Gables

This is the budget transmittal letter of the city manager, summarizing the 2011-2012 budget proposal for the city of Coral Gables.

It’s Budget Time for Coral Gables

The Miami Herald reviews the budget proposal.

Are here is the new budget:

http://www.citybeautiful.net/CGWeb/documents/finance_docs/CCG_Budget_2011-2012.pdf

Here is the page with the previous budget documents and annual reports of the city:

http://www.coralgables.com/CGWeb/dep_documents.aspx?DeptID=DeptID16