Letter to the Herald: Post Election - Facts about Finances

Dear Editor:

Now that the campaign season has ended, we are beginning to see the “true” condition of our City’s finances and the “true” prospects for its future. 

One of the many legacies that the Kerdyk, Withers, Cabrera, Anderson and Slesnick commission left in place  for its constituents is a stable financial situation with good prospects for the future – despite the challenging financial recession of the past four years.  In the May 12th edition of the Miami Herald Neighbors the headline reads:  “City’s financial health more robust this year.”  The article goes on to state that “Coral Gables is on track in collecting its revenues and has spent less than city officials had budgeted…Meanwhile, the city beefed up its reserves to $6.5 million from $4.5 million last year.”  On the same day, the Miami Today’s front page added this good, and predictable, news:  “Miami-Dade’s 2011 property values are expected to show the market has hit bottom already on single-family and condo properties, [County Property Appraiser] Garcia said, and in some cities they’re starting to climb.  These are mostly, Miami-Dade’s most affluent areas, he said, citing Coral Gables…”  Additionally, two weeks after the municipal election, the Herald Neighbors revealed the details of a proposed debt increase of $22 million to fund 17 projects of a “neighborhood renaissance” plan which in most part had nothing to do with “deferred maintenance.” 

In fact, little attention has been given to the capitol projects which were authorized and funded by the last Commission (much of which was achieved by procuring County and State funding support) and are either in progress or about to begin.  These include:  the improvements and repair to the Police/Fire headquarters building ($3.5 million) and the sanitary sewer system ($6 million); street resurfacing and traffic calming installations ($800,000); the dredging of the Coral Gables Canal ($4.5 million); the repair and restoration of the historic North Gables Water Tower ($200,000); the restoration of the Miracle Theater’s historic marquee ($250,000); the on-going construction of the Ponce de Leon Boulevard median ($1.5 million) and the recently begun installation of the Segovia Street median ($850,000).   Those project budgets total approximately $17.5 million of important investments that are already “on the books” and aimed at completion in the foreseeable future. 

No matter what the political rhetoric was in the past, the time has come to recognize the true facts of our City’s financial status (challenged but full of promise) and how much money has been raised and dedicated toward continuing to improve our quality of life.

Don Slesnick

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