A Message from Commissioner Castro on the Budget Hearing for September 26, 2023

Melissa Castro is City of Coral Gables commissioner and a Specialist in Behavior Analysis and Industrial Organizational Psychology.

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for a candid conversation about the state of affairs in Coral Gables, our beloved community. What I’m about to share is more than just facts. This is an “un-masking”. And it’s a passionate plea to read this article and understand the political games being played with our city’s future.

The truth: the mayor is attempting to dismantle capital projects dear to residents. In darkness, he is proposing a plan to slash or kill budgets for needed improvements that define us, enrich our lives, and preserve neighborhoods. These projects, like pieces of art, are integral to our city’s identity.

Here are some of them in his plan:

• Burger Bobs – Granada Golf Course Diner Renovations:

A place where we’ve shared countless meals and stories now at risk

Defunded by $721,737, a 50% reduction

• New Sidewalk Installations:

The pathways where we push strollers, children play, and neighbors connect

Defunded by $500,000, a 100% reduction, killing the project

• Citywide Traffic Calming Program:

A project that ensures our safety and quality of life

Defunded by $600,280, a 50% reduction

• City Hall Complex Improvements:

The heart of our civic identity and our most precious historical gem

Defunded by $600,000

• Coral Gables Country Club Improvements:

A place of recreation and togetherness

Defunded $350,000, a 75% reduction

• Philips Park Renovation and Enhancement:

A cornerstone of our community

Defunded by $2 million, a 50% reduction

• ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Remediation:

Ensuring accessibility for all

Defunded by $100,000, a 100% reduction, killing the project

And many more… a total of 26 out of 37 projects we hold dear, teetering on the edge of oblivion. All this sacrifice in exchange for an average annual savings of $215 per homeowner under the mayor’s 7.5% millage rate reduction option!  

Hopefully now you can see why I support keeping the millage at its current rate.

Here are some more facts.  Among the 34 municipalities in Miami-Dade County which have their own Fire and Police Services (Full-Service Cities), Coral Gables boasts the second-lowest millage rate at 5.559%. Key Biscayne holds the top spot. However, let’s not forget that Key Biscayne operates its government differently, devoid of pension obligations.

The mayor’s true intention emerges from the shadows like a cunning fox seeking a chance to brag before the commission. He wants us to believe he’s the lone champion of lower property taxes while the rest of us supposedly oppose it. The groundwork for his reelection campaign ads is being laid as we speak. But the reality is stark; this plan isn’t feasible or in the best interest of our residents. Under his proposed millage rate reduction, over 50% of our cherished capital projects would die.

Previous commission meetings reveal his true intentions. Initially, he had no concrete plan to lower the millage rate, expecting us to do his dirty work and cut capital projects. On September 7th, a memo was sent to commission members with his absurd proposal, one he avoided discussing openly because he knew it spelled disaster for our city, and for him, especially if the residents found out.

One thing the mayor is standing firm on: he has no desire to touch the pensions or the city reserves. Fast-tracking pension liability payments and keeping reserves high (the city has more than $50 Million in reserves!) is reportedly the “legacy” he wants to be known for after he leaves office.

That’s why his plan only includes cuts to capital projects that we cherish so much.

To ensure his “legacy”, he has a resolution on the commission agenda for a vote at our next meeting this Tuesday, September 26th, aiming to make it harder to tap into the reserves. He is doing this to counter a proposal Commissioner Fernandez presented to use 20% of the reserves, fill in the difference with an equity line of credit, and fully fund the Alhambra Water Tower Restoration, City Hall Window Replacement, Sidewalk Repairs, Biltmore Way Streetscape Tree Canopy, and the creation of a pickleball facility at Parking Garage 4.  Let’s be realistic… how much longer are we going to have to wait for these projects?

As someone not born into the world of politics, I’m learning the game all too quickly, and it’s disheartening. In recent weeks, the mayor has faced setbacks, notably the failed attempt to move the election to November, a loss attributed to Commissioner Kirk Menendez’ opposition. The Mayor and Vice Mayor have resorted to sabotage, even targeting community-based projects like the Philips Park renovation that are close to Commissioner Menendez’ heart.

It’s painful to wonder: could vindictiveness and revenge truly overshadow the mandate to serve the people and the best interests of the residents? Instead of genuine commitment, it’s all about political maneuvering, executed with a strategic precision that beguiles. But I stand here to unveil this charade, armed with the tools to expose this farce.

Rumors are swirling that we’ve increased property taxes, forsaken historic preservation, and redirected funds from monuments to Philips Park. Allow me to clarify: none of this is true. In the upcoming commission meeting, “they” will once again attempt to defund Philips Park, casting me as unsupportive of historic preservation. But the truth is far more complex, and I’m committed to shedding light on it. I stand strong and I will not stand for bullying and vindictive manipulation. They are trying to divide and destroy the community using City of Miami-style politics and tactics.

I will not stand down as they try to undermine and punish Commissioner Menendez because he didn’t vote the way the Vice Mayor and Mayor wanted.

Join me in support of Commissioner Menendez as he has shown continued courage and integrity against a constant barrage of political threats and deception launched by Mayor Lago and Vice Mayor Anderson that threaten our city’s future and the well-being of our residents.

Please tell Mayor Lago and Vice Mayor Anderson that their actions must come to an end.

[email protected]

[email protected]

In ending, I will not support proposals that threaten to dismantle our city’s core.  It’s time to stand united and unveil the truth behind these political maneuvers.  

Coral Gables deserves leadership that prioritizes residents and the will of the people.


Melissa Castro

The views expressed in opinion pieces are those of the opinion authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Gables Insider, its staff or its affiliates. If you would like to submit an opinion for publication, please email it along with a photo and a two sentence biography of yourself to [email protected].


173 thoughts on “A Message from Commissioner Castro on the Budget Hearing for September 26, 2023

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  50. “Burger Bobs – Granada Golf Course Diner Renovations:
    A place where we’ve shared countless meals and stories now at risk…Defunded by $721,737, a 50% reduction”

    The City of Coral Gables refused to renew Burger Bobs lease in 2022. It’s no longer “Burger Bobs” and this “plea” is disingenuous.

    The additional drama about money needed for “heart and soul” projects should be suspect for any mature adult.

    Fiscal responsibility seems very necessary

  51. Mr. Banos:

    Why has Gables Insider not reported on the recent commission meetings and their results? A budget was approved, raises were awarded and residents’ tax dollars were spent. Yet our “Most Trusted Source For Coral Gables News” is silent. Say what one will about Ariel Fernandez, but at least Gables Insider timely published commission results on his watch. Gables Insider now seems to be just a biased mouthpiece.

    Your apparent unseriousness about actually informing residents begs the question: Why are you running this blog? Do you think it will raise your profile in advance of an election run against Commissioners Anderson or Menendez? Did you and Ariel made a deal where you pretend to publish the blog to raise your profile for the next election, while Ariel actually run it as a bullhorn for his own agenda? If true, that would be pretty clever.

    Be careful, though, as you will probably not win election by affiliating yourself with Ariel and Melissa if they continue hiding things from residents. They may not win reelection if residents believe they cannot be trusted, which seems the current perception. The propriety of raises aside, they handled it in a manner that was underhanded and disrespectful to all residents. Sometimes the cover-up is worse than the crime; this is one of those times.

    I voted for them because what I was reading was that Coral Gables was being mismanaged and residents’ desires ignored. I was unhappy with everyone on the dias. I thought Ariel and Melissa would be good for the city and a solution to the problems as I understood them. So far, though, it looks like I was sold a bill of goods. I really hope I’m wrong.

    But I’ll never really know whether I’m wrong if our “Most Trusted Source For Coral Gables News” doesn’t run actual news about what happens at commission meetings. And that is the real purpose of this comment.

    So, in conclusion, start running more news articles about what is happening in Coral Gables, including providing summaries of commission meeting results. If you don’t have the time, maybe someone else should do it or maybe Gables Insider should shut back down permanently. Then you can focus more on your upcoming campaign.

  52. Zero class. Shame on you, Menendez, and especially Fernandez for using his website for such garbage. Absolutely disgusting. Increasing your own salary while the average citizen struggles to make ends meet. Incredibly tone deaf.

    I proudly stand with the Mayor and Vice Mayor. The only ones who voted against raising their salaries.

  53. What a disappointment you turned out to be. You dare speak on moral superiority when you vote to increase your own salary by over 70 percent. Shameful. Commissioner Fernandez is no better. Voting to raise his own salary and using his publication for political purposes. You’re both a disgrace to the legacy of our city’s founder. Shame on you.

  54. So you along with your commissioner posse get a passing in favor of your increases and my child who works for the City, and, no, can not sign or will not their NAME on here, found out that due to the upgrades that they will FINALLY be doing to the City Hall building, will be relocating somewhere else with a divided team for, they say a year, but realistically will more likely take 2 years, in order to renovate it. I have been telling them to get out of the government sector – the pay nor ‘mistreatment’ is not worth it. And now I’m reading all these shameful comments on here like how city staff should not have pensions or retirements!? Disgusting! I can not for the life of me also understand the residents that are always so quick of concerned for the Police and Fire departments when they have one of the best unions around and how on here apparently NOW everyone is vouching “more pay” for..politicians? But what all of you do not realize are the actual civil and public servants that actually do all the work. The majority of residents think that Coral Gables have districts! The majority of residents wait last minute to even show up nor even know how to get in touch with any elected official, or should I dare day, any city department…the city has a very informative website. THIS article PLUS all of YOUR comments are the reason why GOOD WORKERS LEAVE. The public sector is worth it anymore. How dare you all say you are all for “living wages” when barely the average full-time employee does not even close to what is going to be given to the commissioners. I am appalled at many behaviors displayed. I am telling my child to leave the city before they ruin their future by staying any longer. This has gone on far enough.

  55. Commissioners Castro and Fernandez
    How can you be supporting menendez after all the bad publicity and campaigns against your election! What is he promising you?

  56. How can you be supporting Memendez afer all the campaigns he ran against you and all the bad publicity he promoted not to have you elected! What is he promising you?

    How dare you vote to increase your salaries! This is a disgrace !

  57. How can you be supporting Memendez afer all the campaigns he ran against you and all the bad publicity he promoted not to have you elected! What is he promising you?

    How dare you vote to increase your salaries! This is a disgrace !

  58. How can you be supporting Memendez afer all the campaigns he ran against you and all the bad publicity he promoted not to have you elected! What is he promising you?

    How dare you vote to increase your salaries! This is a disgrace !

  59. How can you be supporting Memendez afer all the campaigns he ran against you and all the bad publicity he promoted not to have you elected! What is he promising you?

    How dare you vote to increase your salaries! This is a disgrace !

  60. How can you support Menendez after he was the one leading several campaigns against you and commisioner Fernandez being elected? What is he promising you?

  61. How can you support Menendez after he was the one leading a campaign against your and commisioner Fernandez being elected? What is he promising you?

    Its a disgrace you for voting to increase your salaries , yours, fernandez and menende

    this is very low class!

  62. How can you support Menendez after he was the one leading a campaign against your and commisioner Fernandez being elected? What is he promising you?

    Its a disgrace you for voting to increase your salaries , yours, fernandez and menende

    this is very low class!

  63. How can you support Menendez after he was the one leading a campaign against your and commisioner Fernandez being elected? What is he promising you?

    Its a disgrace you for voting to increase your salaries , yours, fernandez and menende

    this is very low class!

  64. Castro

    How can you support Menendez after he was the one leading a campaign against your and commisioner Fernandez being elected? What is he promising you?

    Its a disgrace you for voting to increase your salaries , yours, fernandez and menende

    this is very low class!

  65. commissioner Castro

    How can you support Menendez after he was the one leading a campaign against your and commisioner Fernandez being elected? What is he promising you?

    Its a disgrace you for voting to increase your salaries , yours, fernandez and menende

    this is very low class!

  66. commissioner Castro

    How can you support Menendez after he was the one leading a campaign against your and commisioner Fernandez being elected? What is he promising you?

    Its a disgrace you for voting to increase your salaries , yours, fernandez and menende

    this is very low class!

  67. commissioner Castro

    How can you support Menendez after he was the one leading a campaign against your and commisioner Fernandez being elected? What is he promising you?

    Its a disgrace you for voting to increase your salaries , yours, fernandez and menende

    this is very low class!

  68. commissioner Castro

    How can you support Menendez after he was the one leading a campaign against your and commisioner Fernandez being elected? What is he promising you?

    Second shame on you for voting to increase your salaries , yours, fernandez and menendez

    Third shame on you for writing such an article , this is very low class!

  69. Shame on you commissioner Castro

    How can you support Menendez after he was the one leading a campaign against your and commisioner Fernandez being elected? What is he promising you?

    Second shame on you for voting to increase your salaries , yours, fernandez and menendez

    Third shame on you for writing such an article , this is very low class!

  70. I don’t know who is correct. What I will recommend to the concerned residents is to sign with their first and last name. That will give credibility to your comments. If you don’t sign your full name I disregard what you are saying. Let’s work for a better Coral Gables.
    My persona experience is that I have been waiting for the City to repair a sidewalk they broke when they cut a beautiful and big tree saying it was sick.
    Thank you all.
    Jimmy Forrest

  71. I stand with Melissa. The projects being suggested for defunding speak to the community’s heart and soul. And, if raising commission salaries will bring us residents who really want to serve the community but can’t afford to do so at a part time salary than so be it. It would seem better than having leaders who appear to be augmenting their salaries in the pay to play business. I can’t tell you how difficult it is for most of us to follow what’s really happening inside and out at City Hall. Thank you Melissa and Ariel for your efforts at telling it like it is and promoting community upgrades and values. Ms Anderson – so far you’ve disappointed but I hope that will change. And Mr Mayor Lago on occasion I have seen you lead as a public servant but not often enough. Lastly I will probably be the only person to say this but if we need to raise property taxes, raise them. That way everyone shares in solving issues without bickering about one over the other. I can’t remember when our taxes were last raised. This is a wealthy community where a vast number of people only want the prestige of an address in the Gables, don’t vote, and otherwise don’t want to be bothered. You might not think so, but I am an economic conservative. So let’s spend locally and cut budgets at the state and national level for heaven’s sake! That’s where “our” dollars are REALLY being allocated poorly!

  72. To No Leonard Nemoy,

    First, you spelled my name wrong. Secondly, a point of clarification. Pawns don’t live in pockets, they live on chess boards. Don’t get your metaphors mixed up. Thirdly, I HaVE nO aFfIliaTIOn tO anyOnE so tHIs is aN UbIASeD oPINioN.

    Beam me up, Scotty!

  73. Castro’s reference to a low millage rate as equivalent to low taxes is misguided and plain wrong. Since each city has its own needs, a comparison is meaningless. But if you compare tax dollars, I suspect you will find Gables has higher taxes in dollar amounts per property. Since the city wasn’t expecting a surge in tax values resulting from a surge of property values, all of that excess money should be returned to the residents not added to make up a higher budget for pet projects. The city needs to focus on fiscal responsibility, addressing very specific necessary city work and reducing the existing budget not adding to the budget. So commissioners, please reduced the millage rate, reduce taxes and reduce the budget. I have many repairs to do in my own home which can be done with every penny I get from a reduction in taxes. If you want more revenue start by enforcing the speed limit and noise ordinance, and ticketing those violators, all along Bird Road and Red Road. Do not add a stimulus package to the budget that is going to come from my pocket.

  74. Leonard Nemoy, you are the pawn in Lago’s pocket. All Your posts are ridiculous and I hope the citizens of CG know to ignore your ramblings.
    PS: I have no affiliation to anyone so this is an unbiased opinion.

  75. Ms. Castro,

    You are a pawn for the CGNA. Those who know you best know you are incapable of writing in an eloquent or formal manner. If you could really write like this, you would also speak better from the dais. How can you expect us to take you seriously? You should be ashamed of yourself for allowing a “special interest” group to use your face and your name in this way. And for those who are unaware… This letter was originally sent out via a CGNA email blast.

    As for the CGNA… Shame on you for continuing to utilize scare tactics and tools like this letter to attempt to sway residents. You are misleading and misguiding. What happened to your group chat? What is the new platform your leadership said you’d be using? You’ve censored a large group of residents because they started to make statements, ask questions, and raise flags that contradict what you say you stand for. Which is what again? All residents? Please, give us all a break.

    The same goes for Mr. Baños who not only published this letter on a platform that represents these same misguided values, but whose CPA firm is the registered agent for both entities. Folks, please help me understand how this is impartial and trustworthy news? My Vulcan mind is incapable of processing this enigma.

    And for those watching today’s Commission Meeting, I hope you enjoyed the theatrics of Mrs. Maria Cruz. Halloween came early this year. Spooky!

  76. Shame on any Commissioner who votes to increase his own salary! How irresponsible.

    Gables’ residents want lower City taxes and lower millage rates. These capital funding projects are not necessary. The City should sell Burger Bob’s and the Country Club buildings immediately and stop funding them.

  77. Oh no. Two things.
    This publication used to be informative but it has become a one-sided political platform. It’s an embarrassment.
    Second, yet most important, you Commissioner Castro have time to write this absurd manifesto yet you do not respond to constituent emails calling you out on your stealth salary increase? This piece is a poorly veiled attempt to deflect from what we all know is your wrongdoing. As such it is not acceptable to respectful Coral Gables residents regardless of who we may support on the dais.
    You are in dire need of an intensive course in CIVILITY.
    Our elected officials and constituents may disagree with one another on issues but not in the offensive manner you have chosen to engage in while under the guise of public service.
    Comport yourself with professionalism and get things done without resorting to insulting language towards fellow elected officials and your “pot calling the kettle black” comparisons to The City of Miami.
    Rather than being a “Whiner-In-Chief” and for the sake of good government in our city please stop your unwelcome divisive rants.

  78. Melissa Castro is a hypocrite. She put into the Coral Gables budget, without public notice or public debate, a 70% raise + car allowance and other benefits. She did with with Ariel Fernandez and Kirk Menendez – because they had the votes. When asked about this amendment to the budget – all three were totally silent.
    Gables Insider is not a political forum … but Castro just inserted her diatribe into our community forum.
    But Coral Gables residents need to know they are raising your taxes to pay themselves these additional amounts. They are ripping you off.
    She has been in office 5 months and did this. So much for transparency and honesty and for being a real public servant. Coral Gables needs to get rid of all three of them.

  79. Gables Insider is not a political cortadito. This should be a place for reporting the facts journalistically. Commissioners have newsletters to write their opinions. This should only be resident groups and the editor recapping meetings, letting residents know about upcoming meetings, events, and results from city hall.

  80. Stop the petty bickering between elected officials and do what you were elected to do! This publication was once informative but has become a rag! I will un suscribe and know many others who will do the same!

  81. A few thoughts. First, the projects Ms. Castro addresses are all important, so the City must prioritize. Almost no one can afford everything they want all time time; the same is true for government. Commissioners must work together to prioritize projects and funding. This is why they were elected.

    Second, using reserves and opening an equity line to “fully fund” projects seems short-sighted given high interest rates. The city will lose interest earnings when 20% ($10 million) of its reserves are spent, and will pay interest on whatever it borrows to pay the balance due on the projects. There are times for debt-financed government. This is not such a time.

    Third, and returning to our elected officials, it is very sad to see an opinion piece like this. It seems at least 60% of the commission (Lago, Castro and Fernandez), and possibly 80% (Anderson) simply cannot work together, or possibly even be civil and get along. This means the city suffers; this means we residents suffer. This is no good. Commissioners need to work out their personal differences (or work harder to put them aside) and put residents and the city first.

    I really hope they do better. We all deserve better than this.

  82. Melissa,

    I appreciate the opinion. I learned a lot from it and from the comments. I generally agree we can’t fund everything. But I think reducing property tax rates to defund community projects is wrong in this instance. The true cost of home ownership today is skyrocketing prices of insurance and interest rates. It strikes me that the property tax savings is a drop in the bucket. I would benefit from understanding the difference in tax on a $1mil house for example. I would not support increased pay for commissioners, but would support most of the projects you mention where budget is proposed to be cut.

    I hope you continue the dialogue, but do agree it could be toned down a bit so as to not come across antagonistic. Thank you!

  83. I don’t have time to get into the nitty-gritty budget details, so it comes to this … who do you trust more: Melissa/Ariel or Vince/Rhonda? I’ll take Melissa/Ariel in a heartbeat!

  84. Good morning MS Castro.
    You were just only voted in to be a commissioner, you knew or maybe not, what the job entails.

    We pay high taxes, insurance has gone up, inflation is for real, look at the prices at the grocery stores, gasoline, basic necessities, and then the 3 of you come along and just want more money for your pockets.

    You voted against lowering the millage rate, real reason is not that the Mayor has projects, REAL reason is to get the highest pay raise ever seen in the City, PLUS extras….
    Did you come into the City expecting more? You knew this is a part time job, not a real full time job, and now you want to change the description to justify your pay raises.
    Maybe what the the City should do is change the titles given as Commissioners and , re hire as administrative assistant, then elect new commissioners.

    We need elected officials to do what they promised, work for the residents of the City not your own agenda. You write all these letters, that mean nothing, speak up in front of the commission,
    why do you have to make back room deals, is it because you know the residents would not approve?
    Very sneaky way of doing a job you were elected to do , not hired to do.

    Stop writing letters like the ones you have been sending out, the truth will come out,. you have a personal problem with the Mayor, take it out on your own time and stop all this back and forth, writing letters, speak up, in front of residents. Don’t just sit and smile when you are at a commission meeting.

    I am sure this is not what you were elected to do.

    :et the elections be NOVEMBER, more residents will vote, verses keeping it in July.
    I hope and pray this BUDGET does the right for the RESIDENTS, we are the ones that need your perks.

    I also want my taxes to slash the Citiy’s bloated budget, I also want my property taxes to go down, not up, we are living in very difficult times, and the worst is yet to come.

    I hope and pray we get our City back, and those representing the residents.
    Very disappointed, I did vote for you. Mistake????

  85. The Mayor has played Castro and Fernandez by having them focus on these projects and not on open positions, high executive salaries, and department spending run amok. That is where the true grift is and L’Ego knows it.

  86. CG has the lowest read yes lowest mileage of all the full service municipalities in Miami Dade county-leave current millage rate, cut the fat cat salaries currently in place & use the cuts to pay a living wage to the underpaid employees. With all the chaos the previous administration brought & ripe for change at last election-it still boggles the mind the mayor did not draw any opponent whom easily would have taken him down.

  87. Comissioner Castro,

    Completely agree with Mr. Santos. You cannot fund everything. These projects would be nice to have, but frankly most of them are not necessities. People have to make decisions like this everyday. Crying wolf does nothing to solve this problem. If you and your voting block want a pay raise go out there and earn it. Find creative ways to get these projects funded (state grants, Federal funding, etc)

  88. One, lady, I’m tired of seeing your “poetic” essay, and see more political BS outside of its playing field. You are not exception, really, if you want to call someone “whatever” you think they are by the book. Learn to speak up more in the meetings and not be HAGGLED by any commissioner, including that Ariel. Stop writing, start talking! And DO the talk!

  89. Everyone has an agenda and unfortunately I do not trust any of you. We voted Ariel & Melissa in to stop the self-serving mess from the previous Commission. I agree you need a raise, but not as high as you are asking, as you are given expense accounts and work part-time. You have tarnished your names with this request. Kirk I do not trust as far as I can throw him. He moves where he will be on the winning team. Anderson, you are the lowest of the lowest, with no carry-through with all your promises. Lago, it would take pages to explain why I do not trust you, like you or want you as our Mayor. You and your family appear to be profiting from your politics. Add to this your support for all the over building and concrete we are dealing with. Shame on all of you. Your emails, text’s and letters fighting with each other does nothing but tear down one of the best Cities in Florida. You were elected by us to do a job for us that we want you to do. I have not seen any of this from any of you for years. You are an embarrassment to our City.

  90. Ridiculous run away spending. The amounts allocated to each of these projects is excessive. How are these amounts determined? Is there competitive bidding? Rather than increasing commission salaries perhaps they should be eliminated entirely if these programs are so essential. Do not reduce the reserve! Not only does the reserve help with borrowing but it is a safety net for emergencies. Stop the bickering and work for the people who elected you!

  91. I agree we need to maintain our city. Perhaps we need focus on select projects that promote safety and security first and then add a couple of nice to haves. I agree with sidewalks where they do not exist and even a nice dog park, but both are nice to haves right now. I don’t think we need to invest so much in Burger Bob’s and Coral Gables country club, maybe the right thing is donations to these causes instead of taxpayer money. Traffic calming is great but instead we should force all of these big developers to pay for it since they are creating the additional traffic; it is wrong that residents have to pay when we don’t create the problem. We don’t know everything the Mayor is trying to do or if he needs to suggest the above to fund things we have to fund (not want to fund – but HAVE to like pensions). In most cases he isn’t suggesting taking the full money away from most of these projects, but he is cutting it. I think this Mayor is trying to do the right thing. I don’t agree with everything he does but that is true of anyone. I have seen him work hard in our surrounding neighborhoods and he listens. It’s not an easy job. The mayor and all the commissioners work harder than we all realize. Mayor Lago is FAR FAR FAR better than that old goat we had there previously who was incredibly sneaky, conniving and NEVER listened to residents. Be careful what you wish for because we could have it far worse. Ms. Castro, as someone who voted for you, please find a way to work together – sending such negativity out there isn’t benefitting the greater good. It’s really important to stay fair and balanced. Suggest you all learn about the pension mess our predecessors left us – it’s a true mess and I believe Mayor Lago has to do the pension funding because it’s so underfunded today. To the people out there that don’t want to leave that problem to our kids – funding it sooner helps avoid the strain on them and changing it to a 401K type pension is the way to go forward like practically every company we work for does today. That would be something to suggest Ms. Castro – stop the pension bleeding and switch the plan to a 401K for all new hires!

  92. Do not dip into the reserves. That money has been saved for emergencies and to enhance our bond ratings.
    And, if you want to double your compensation, do it openly, with ample opportunity for public comment.

  93. I’ve voiced this before and know others have as well in meetings – Can someone please tell us WHY the City still has pensions for NON-EMERGENCY PERSONNEL???!!! An outdated and unsustainable practice!!! Enough already! We’re sick & tired of being ripped off!

  94. Mel,
    Please propose equal taxation for all at the Miami Dade County commission. Our children are not being able to buy homes because older residents are paying 5 to 10 times less due to being long time residents. I understand people that are retired (65)getting a break, but the burden on the young and new buyers is absurd!

  95. Commissioner Castro,
    You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. What unmasking are you talking about and what residents don’t support prudently spending our tax dollars. You are a typical tax and spend politician. There is nothing wrong with saving for a rainy day!!! You are truly an embarrassment to Coral Gables.

  96. I am sure that Logo wants to use whatever money there is on his Mobility Hub which I and many opposed. How about a Dog Park? That has been talked many times and yet I don’t see anything. What I do see is Lago and Anderson with their own agenda.

    Stay firm and on course. I know about P&L and how moneys are wasted at City/County levels.

    I do not mind paying for projects that do benefit us as a whole. Yes, not everyone plays golf and not everyone has gone to Burger Bob’s. But I recall, Iglesias doing favors for friend that were costing tax revenue to the city, yet everyone turned a blind eye.

    If you have not read about the demise of MDX, they are given substantial bonus to those in charge of MDX as a departure gift. Why? Were the salaries not enough?

    Lago, Anderson and Iglesias need to go.

  97. Oh I see the Mayor’s stooges at work. Writing those anonymous comments.Go go go Melissa- what did the Mayor bring us but more high rises encroaching on residential areas and more traffic with his stooge in waiting Rhonda the Redcoat – the traitor to the people who supported her in Sarto Park with her endless now we know bulkshit meetings and went right to the monied interest . Lago should be keep himself busy with the double dealing on property sales in the Gables and allegations of corruption- not his re-election to line his pockets and that of his brother who was involved in these property sales as well . By Rhonda you are done as Commissioner and so is Kirk if he does not support Melissa and Ariel.

  98. Ms. Castro, looks like you are using the word “defunding” to trigger a whole new narrative, it is disingenuous and discouraging. Your job as Commissioners is to invest our hard earned tax payer dollar efficiently, which means using it in the projects that are needed most and hear the residents before making a move. I must agree with resident Alberto Santos comment entirely.

  99. Rhonda what happened to you? What happened to your promises that you made to your constituents in Sarto Park? You attacked the very people you now support. You went right to the monied interests! You promised to support the people. You lied to us who supported you and you will draw a challenger and you will be done. Kirk I think got the message- if not he will be gone too. Shame on you Rhonda -typical lawyer self interest – what’s in it for you? Oh Baños run run run

  100. I would definitely start with the commission initiated pay raises tucked into the budget under the cloak of darkness.

    You volunteered and were elected to do a part-time job. You are not required to work a full time week.

    If you started a part time job at McDonalds and you worked more than what your job description required, management wouldn’t pay you the full time hours or for your “above and beyond”. You have to make a case to the management to reclassify you and pay you more.

    Coral Gables is what it is today (which is lovely) because it had part time elected officials who made good decisions based on sound advice of full-time professional executives.

  101. Are all these expensive projects? How many do they really benefit? For instance, not everyone plays golf. What are the options for the private sector to take some over? The city needs to spend within its limits and prioritize projects that have the most benefits for the largest number residents.

  102. Melissa, you are there to smartly spend the taxes we pay. We the residents. You cannot fund everything. You have to choose the most important ones, and yes, we have to defund some. I would propose that you start with stopping the compensation and benefits increase, that you and Ariel are sponsoring, for the benefit of the commissioners. Please work for us, the residents. We do not need idealistic messages. We need effective government. Thank you.

  103. I want the city to protect my tax dollars, to lower taxes and to slash the bloated budget. No need for you to increase spending at a time of economic turmoil. We have to pay high property prices, higher insurance, deal with inflation and now you want to take more money away from the residents in the form of higher taxes. That’s not nice. The way you use the term “defunding” doesn’t seem to be accurate.

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