Coral Gables

Homeowners would pay more under proposed budget

The Coral Gables City Commission held their first budget hearing Thursday and tentatively approved a tax rate of $5.59 per $1,000 in taxable home value.

That rate is down slightly from this year’s rate of $5.63, but homeowners will still pay more.

That’s because the tax cut is too small to offset even the small increase in assessed home values allowed by the state constitution for owner-occupied residences.

The result: The owner of a $590,000 house will pay $3,068 to the city, up $28 from this year. That assumes the homeowner qualified for the standard $50,000 homestead exemption and that the home’s assessed value increased by 1.5 percent, the most allowed this year for an owner-occupied residence.

“I’m proud that we have lowered property taxes for the fourth year in a row, and provided the necessary funding for our departments to thrive, including the police department that has been focused on recently,” Commissioner Frank Quesada said Friday.

The police department will continue to be budgeted for the same 191 officers as it had in 2014.

After discussing the budget with the city manager, the commission voted to add funds for a new commission aide at a cost of about $60,000. The commission also decided to buy another trolley ($230,000) and build an entryway on Old Cutler Road ($130,000).

Commissioner Vince Lago proposed implementing car-charging stations in the city, where residents would be able to charge their electric vehicles. The idea will be discussed at the next budget hearing.

The final budget hearing will be at 5:01 p.m. on Sept. 23 at Coral Gables City Hall, 405 Biltmore Way.

State law requires that budget hearings be held after 5 p.m. to facilitate public participation.