Accountable Coral Gables Submits Petition to Require Voter Approval for City Official Salary Hikes

A political action committee, Accountable Coral Gables, has submitted over 2,000 petition signatures to require voter approval for future salary increases of Coral Gables city officials, following a controversial 3-2 city commission vote in September 2023 that granted significant pay raises to themselves. The move aims to promote transparency and accountability in local governance, setting a precedent for other municipalities to consider similar measures." This description focuses on the primary topic of the article (the petition submission and its purpose), the main entities involved (Accountable Coral Gables and the Coral Gables city officials), the context (local governance and the city commission vote), and the significant actions and implications (promoting transparency and accountability). The description also provides objective and relevant details that will help an AI generate an accurate visual representation of the article's content, such as the number of petition signatures and the context of the city commission vote.

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Nitish Verma
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Accountable Coral Gables Submits Petition to Require Voter Approval for City Official Salary Hikes

Accountable Coral Gables Submits Petition to Require Voter Approval for City Official Salary Hikes

Accountable Coral Gables, a political action committee, has submitted 2,078 petition signatures to require voter approval for future salary increases of Coral Gables city officials. The move comes after City Commissioners voted 3-2 in September 2023 to award themselves significant pay raises, including a 53.6% increase for the Mayor, 70.5% for the Vice Mayor, and 78% for Commissioners.

Why this matters: This development highlights the need for transparency and accountability in local governance, as unchecked salary hikes can lead to a disconnect between elected officials and their constituents. Moreover, it sets a precedent for other municipalities to consider similar measures, ensuring that public servants remain accountable to the people they serve.

The petition signatures collected so far account for approximately 65% of the required 3,215 signatures needed to get the charter amendment on the next election ballot. Accountable Coral Gables Chair Alex Bucelo stated, "We are humbled by the level of support we have received from our neighbors as we have crisscrossed the city explaining the need for this charter reform."

In addition to the substantial salary increases, the City Commission also approved doubling the expense allowances to $9,600 for all members except the Mayor and added a new $8,446-per-year stipend for each member. Newly elected Commissioners Melissa Castro and Ariel Fernandez led the push for the pay raises, with support from Kirk Menendez.

Mayor Vince Lago and Vice Mayor Rhonda Anderson opposed the raises, expressing concerns about the lack of resident input and the negative perception of the move. Accountable Coral Gables formed on February 15 and has raised over $50,000 through March 31, with the majority of funds coming from real estate development interests in Miami-Dade County.

The group is also collecting signatures supporting charter amendments to require a four-fifths vote by the Coral Gables Commission to tap the city's reserve fund and to move its municipal elections from April in odd years to November in even years to align with the General Election. If successful, the petition would give Coral Gables voters the final say on any future increases in compensation for the city's elected officials.

Key Takeaways

  • Coral Gables group submits 2,078 petition signatures to require voter approval for city officials' pay raises.
  • City Commissioners voted 3-2 to give themselves significant pay raises, including 53.6% for the Mayor.
  • Accountable Coral Gables needs 3,215 signatures to get the charter amendment on the next election ballot.
  • The group also seeks to require a 4/5 vote to tap the city's reserve fund and move municipal elections to November.
  • If successful, voters will have the final say on future compensation increases for city officials.