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Ex-Coral Gables commissioner: Previous commissions did a lot for city


How to sound off

To submit your letter, email or write Soapbox, c/o Neighbors, 3511 NW 91st Avenue, Miami, Fla., 33172. Fax: 305-376-5287. Letters must address a specific LOCAL issue and must be signed with a name, city or neighborhood, as well as a telephone number for verification purposes. Letters more than 350 words will not be accepted, and writers are limited to one letter every four weeks. Letters will run as space allows and may be edited for length, style and clarity. The deadline for letters is noon Wednesday.

Re: the Sept. 1 letter from Coral Gables development services director Jane Tompkins ( Former mayor’s letter a misrepresentation), it is amazing that the response to a letter written by former Mayor Don Slesnick on a zoning matter ( No need to change Gables nightlife, Aug. 25) turns into a platform by city administration to create revisionist history on the achievements that took place from 2001-2011. As a city commissioner from 2001-2013, I am amazed at the gross misrepresentations contained in this letter.

In 2001, in a historic election that brought out over 10,000 voters, Don Slesnick, Ralph Cabrera and I joined Bill Kerdyk and Chip Withers on the dais, and from 2001 – 2011, we crafted a vision for our city that translated into the restoration of the majority of historic landmarks, fountains and entrances; the Desoto Fountain, Merrick House and the City Hall cupola, to name the major ones. The Coral Gables Trolley and the Coral Gables Museum came to life during this time, and senior citizen activities grew exponentially. We also rewrote the city’s outdated Zoning Code.

In terms of pension reform, we made the retirement system a contributory one again in 2003-04, and got the three unions to contribute, the first time since the late 1980s. We made the necessary and deep structural changes to the plan, ones that included closing the plan to new hires. We did the heavy lifting that makes it easier for future City Commissions to make other changes, a fact that is conveniently omitted from Tompkins’ letter.

What is most remarkable is that it was all accomplished under the 2001 dot-com economic bust and the deep 2008 recession. No one elected official has all the right answers; it is a collaborative effort, and you take the good and the bad. It’s not about being a superhero; it is about public service. I’m proud to have served my hometown of Coral Gables and am deeply grateful for opportunity to have been a part of this dedicated and thoughtful city and commission team.

Maria Anderson, Coral Gables

Taxes were lower before Salerno

Members of the Coral Gables City Commission were tickled mauve when City Manager Pat Salerno’s budget proposal for the next fiscal year allowed for a third consecutive cut in property taxes. They were inclined to be tickled pink, but history and perspective muted their joy.

First, they noted that the proposed tax rate of $5.629 per $1,000 in property value was a paltry four one-hundredths of a mill lower than the current rate.

Then, they recalled that when Salerno took office in April of 2009, the tax rate was $5.25, and his first budget resulted in an increase to $5.995. It also called for imposition of a new Fire Service Fee and large increases in a host of other fees. Then they recalled that Salerno’s second budget (2010-2011) resulted in an increase in the tax rate to $6.072. Then they realized that the reduction in millage rates over the past three years amount to about one-half of the increases that occurred during his first two years in office. Their spirits were further dampened when they noted that the current budget proposal calls for a 40 percent increase in the residential Fire Service Fee from $50 to $70.

Think mauve.

James Hinrichsen, Coral Gables

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