Gables City Manager Pat Salerno: I’m not returning to Sunrise
Just after Coral Gables commissioners voted 3-2 two weeks ago to keep City Manager Pat Salerno in office after two commissioners moved to fire him over his management style, the man who replaced Salerno in Sunrise four years ago left his job.
The simultaneous events fueled speculation that Salerno might return to his post in Sunrise, a Broward municipality he ran as city manager for 18 years. During Salerno’s tenure in Sunrise he was instrumental in bringing the Sawgrass Mills mall and BankAtlantic Center to the city as well as boosting its reserves to $50 million.
But he left in January 2008 amid some of the same grumblings that have recently hit him in the Gables. Three of the five commissioners in Sunrise, who balked at Salerno’s management style, asked for his resignation or threatened to fire him. Bruce Moeller, a fire chief, replaced Salerno and left in early August to accept a job in Pinellas County.
Salerno, 61, became Coral Gables’ city manager in April 2009. When he took office, the city faced a financial crisis as its revenues were overestimated by $8.5 million and its expenses underestimated by the same amount. The city had to taps its reserves of $8.5 million, renegotiate debt and lay off employees.
Today, the Gables has $12 million in reserves. Salerno also negotiated a settlement with the Biltmore Hotel, which paid the city $5 million in back rent and fees in December.