Coral Gables’ City Budget 2022-2023

Ariel Fernandez

Founder & Editor
[email protected]

On Monday, October 3rd at 5:01PM, the City of Coral Gables Commission will hold its second and final hearing on the 2022-2023 Budget.

The City is proposing to maintain the millage rate at 5.559 once again. The rate has remain unchanged since the 2015-2016 fiscal year. However, that does not mean your taxes will remain unchanged.

Taxes Will Still Go Up

Image from referenced Nextdoor post.

While its a great public relations play to say that the millage rate will remain the same, the fact is that your taxes have continued to rise year after year. As property values have risen, so have taxes. The average home’s City taxes in Coral Gables has risen from $3,288 in 2016 to a proposed $4,123 in 2023. That is an increase of 3% for next year and a 25.39% in the past seven years.

As required by law, the City posted a notice of tax increases on the Miami Herald, which was posted about on Nextdoor. In it, the City refers to the changes as a “tax increase,” while urging residents to attend the September 28th meeting. That meeting was rescheduled to October 3rd, due to Hurricane Ian.

Other Municipalities Offer Tax Relief To Residents

Over the last few weeks, residents been have reaching out to Gables Insider about this increase. The largest concern is the fact that numerous other municipalities in Miami-Dade County, as well as the County itself, are reducing their millage rates and offering their residents a relief in the midst of growing inflation.

Three of our immediate neighbors: City of Miami (-0.1126), City of West Miami (-0.2066) and City of South Miami (-0.3001); have reduced their millage rates. The County is reducing its millage by 0.0467 and 0.0193 for non-municipal residents of unincorporated sections of the County. Miami Springs (-0.2195) and Doral (-0.1000) have also lowered their millage rates.

What Is The Millage Rate?

As defined by the Florida Chief Financial Officer’s website, “the millage rate is the amount of property value that is used to calculate local property taxes. Assigned millage rates are multiplied by the total taxable value of the property to arrive at the property taxes.” In other words, in Coral Gables you take the taxable value of your home and multiply it by 0.005559.

Increased Revenue

The City is not without increased revenue. Over the last few years, it has benefited from increased revenue from several large residential and mixed-use projects. This year will not be different, as the City will see its first revenue from the Life Time building, which we recently reported has sold for $430 million.

Previous projects have come online with their added revenue, in addition to the increased taxes on residents in residential properties.

However, there has not been an increase in services, rather we continue to hear that there is no money even for basic needs. So where has the money gone?

That is the question many are left pondering. The rate of growth and development in the City has only grown during these seven years and residents have yet to see a tax break.

Creation Of New Positions

In the proposed budget, the City Manager is proposing creating new positions. This accounts for almost $6 million. ($4.6 million for salaries, $950,000 for Insurance and $385,000 in increased Federal Insurance Contributions Act payroll taxes).

Talking about new positions brings about another question, what of the positions that have not been filled?

Perennial Vacancies

Here is what happens. The City budgets for each position every year. Open positions with no one collecting a salary in them eventually bring about the shift of that budget for use by the corresponding department or office. For example, the City has had an opening for an Assistant City Manager since the departure of Frank Fernandez in December of 2018. That position is budgeted at $181,129 for 2022-2023. It was budgeted at $194,134 this year. That money goes back into the pot for use by the City Manager.

It is a common occurrence in Coral Gables to create and/or have vacant positions in order to have a legitimate reason to budget extra funds for a department, which can later be used without Commission authorization.

Money Movement Without Commission Or Resident Knowledge

This is not the only way money is played with. Gables Insider‘s investigation into the sale of the Greco parking lot revealed the mismanagement of funds at City Hall. The sale of the lot for $3.25 million was deemed necessary in order to fund the construction of a parking garage on Minorca. The investigation showed that the funds for the construction of the parking lot had been approved and budgeted by the Commission years before. When it came time to build, the money was gone.

At the discussion over a potential parks master plan, the Commission was shown a slide that caused concern to some on the dais. The funds for the renovation of City Hall were $51,000. Some on the dais believed there should have been about $6 million in that fund. We learned that staff had been taking money from this fund to pay for other things.


Gables Insider inquired on what it would take for staff to move money from one fund to another. The answer was that there are no funds per se. Funds are created in a spreadsheet and money is theoretically set aside for a project. Since the Commission does not receive any monthly, quarterly or any budget reports for that matter, the Commission is never made aware that the moneys they have set aside for certain projects have been used for something else.

Meeting Details

The City Commission will meet to discuss the budget at 5:01PM Monday, October 3rd, at the City Commission Chambers. The meeting will be available on Zoom and on YouTube.


17 thoughts on “Coral Gables’ City Budget 2022-2023

  1. Please reduce the millage and tax dollars overall. And then increase taxes on investors and foreign investors. The “average” tax per house is not meaningful because it does not address the huge burden on those of us who bought our homes in recent years. We are paying disproportionately higher taxes reflective of artificially inflated values that are not proportionate to the salaries of even professionals. On top of these high taxes, those who bought more recently also are stuck having to pay high home prices and high insurance premiums! Please lower taxes. I got a bill of having to pay another almost $2,000 in taxes for a modest home if the new budget passes. That’s absurd.

  2. Does it make a difference what we say or how we feel. NO !!! The leadership and employees of CG know more than we do and they will make the decisions for us. There is no resident input as we do not matter. The manager runs an autocratic City Hall and the weak Mayor & Commission follow suit. Where is all the money from all the huge taxes on all the huge amount of new Comdo buildings? Were is all the tax dollars from all this massive construction and concrete that has ruined our City? What has happened to our City?

  3. Maria asked a good question at the budget hearing about City Hall funding. The next question is what year did “City Hall” become “City Hall Complex”. Just review the budget books online. Lago had an interesting defense.

    Speaking of, can we have someone run for Mayor that will talk less about themselves during Commission meetings? Imagine how much more efficient each meeting would be.

  4. Oscar Wilde, “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”

  5. Seems like there is never enough funds budgeted for the maintenance and preservation of the our city’s historic resources. For example, TDRs [transfer development rights] are sold from eligible historic properties [sending site] to eligible developers [receiving site] in order to maintain [such as roof, a/c, etc.] historic assets. Initially, the idea is good but once one begins to distill the results, the idea loses its appeal.

    From a preservationist’s perspective, it is like robbing Peter to pay Paul [yes Jessica]. The TDR receiving sites are mostly developers who are more than happy to buy these “instruments” to build denser and higher. Isn’t that defeating the purpose of preservation? Selling air rights from a landmark to a developer only incentivizes more development and less conservation.

    I continue to push for an increase in the budget to fully support the needs of our historic resources without having to succumb to other funding means. In a city where “historic” is part of its DNA, and with an annual budget of close to $300 million, it should not need to sell its air rights to accommodate the maintenance and preservation of its landmarks.

  6. If you pay attention, you see all of the money Commission itself asks staff to “find” for pet projects that isn’t programmed. Staff dutifully scrambles to find it. Seems Lago is the primary culprit, but the rest of the Commission rubber stamps. Didn’t he recently ask staff to find over $100k for an unprogrammed IT initiative?

    Why not investigate all of the unfunded projects and who requests them?

    Staff does what they are told but I do believe they should do a better job of articulating how Peter needs to be robbed to pay Paul.

    The segment of the community that blames staff does so for sport or is misinformed. I will preach this forever.

    If anyone is afraid to speak up (and trust me they are!), it’s because they don’t want to become a target – that’s how it works in the Gables.

  7. Very interesting comments! The only issue I see is that we continue using “fake “names and that creates the appearance that some of us are afraid to speak up. I do not understand why, unless we have something to hide. I for one, always use my real name and will continue to stand for what is right. As to the movement of funds, that has been going on in our City for a very long time, way before the sitting elected officials got in! Perhaps we should ask for a limit of how much can be moved from one approved item without having to go back to the Commission for approval.
    This afternoon everyone has the opportunity to speak up either by going in person to City Hall or going by zoom. Please do not fail to do so. Its very easy to complain anonymously and then be upset when the results are not what you want. Thank God we live in a free country and have the right to tell our elected officials, and the City staff what we want to see happen. Exercise that right today! And let your friends know!

  8. Where to start? It seems that the taxes have expanded more rapidily than the City needs such that the City has expanded the budget without constraint. With the impact of the 2020-2022 R/E market, the tax coufers should be overflowing. It’s a simply matter of math. So the position that the rate of tax should be reduced since the tax base has exponentially increased seems more a matter of fact than of opinion unless the City can show why it needs a ballooned budget. I’m baffled about the accountibility allowed with respect to fiscal management of taxpayer funds. The City compiles annual financial statements that are audited by independent CPAs (RSM US LLP for 9/30/19 — couldn’t readily find the most current). The City puts together internal quarterly financial reports — But as you adeptly point out, there is abolutely no transparency in these numbers. At these levels, use of funds is easily hidden. Further, the ability to redirect the use funds at the sole descretion of departments seems ripe with the opportunity for misused (or at worse – fraud). It seems that while the perfuctory reporting is being done (checking the box), true fiscal oversight is lacking. It seems that the City’s house needs to be cleaned and the cracks identified and repaired to restore resident’s confidence in those tasked to represent us and to spend OUR money.

  9. If there is anyone to blame it is our city commission and especially our Mayor, who likes to spend our money frivolously. The staff and Finance Director take their budget orders from them. For next year, our millage must go down. Ask L’Ego when he come up for re-election.

  10. Many questions need to be answered. No budget reports?? How can this be? Money is moved all around except to the places that matter most to the residents. Ariel, vacancies aren’t being filled, there are rumors that 15+ plus officers have applied to the Miami-Dade County Police Department, auto mechanics are leaving and the dispatcher shortage is a constant this true???? Do your thing and expose the truth.

  11. this is a telling comment: Since the Commission does not receive any monthly, quarterly or any budget reports
    that’s crazy. with a budget this size, that’s borderline malpractice. not that games wouldn’t get played anyways, but it’d be more difficult. and more difficult to escape accountability at the commission level. common sense!

  12. Where is the new development, new tax base going? Why is the old police station building still standing? Remember when city officials sold us the lie that it had to be knocked down and wasn’t worth repairing? We have the government we deserve if we can’t even join a zoom meeting at 5pm to voice our concerns.

  13. Unbelievable! We demand transparency! This is not an acceptable accounting practice and this “funny money movement” needs to end now! If a position is not filled within 6 months, it is obviously NOT needed and must be eliminated!!

  14. The City can also cut a lot of un-necessary expenses by firing all the “public servants” who really work for special interests. Start with the city attorney, Miriam Ramos, her staff, and then go to the planning and zoning staff. They can live very nicely on the money from the special interests.

  15. Record high inflation and continued waste of taxpayer’s money by the current administration (mobility hub, Burger Bob’s, the CGCC, etc) demand a reduction in the millage rate. The City of Miami, West Miami, and South Miami have reduced their millage. We demand the same.

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