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Front Page » Top Stories » County Cools Over Deal For Airconditioning Plant Because Of Payment To Miami

County Cools Over Deal For Airconditioning Plant Because Of Payment To Miami

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Written by on March 9, 2006

By Suzy Valentine
Enthusiasm for Miami-Dade County’s purchase of an air-conditioning plant cooled Tuesday when commissioners learned they’d be paying the City of Miami $300,000.

A month after they voted unanimously to buy the facility at 1110 NE First Ave., commissioners considered a new draft of an agreement for $9.3 million that would allow TECO Thermal Systems, a subsidiary of Tampa Electric Co., to get out of a separate contract with the city.

A staff recommendation reads, "The revised contract provides for an adjustment in the purchase price in the amount of $300,000 to assist TECO in providing the City of Miami with compensation for lost revenues due to the sale."

Chairman Joe Martinez said he had nothing against the company but had concerns about entering another deal where the county would effectively bail out Miami, citing a similar situation involving a struggling city attraction.

"I’m not against this transaction," said Mr. Martinez, "but the city reneged on the agreement with Parrot Jungle Island, which was meant to have been funded on an 80/20 basis."

A colleague said that while he shared the chairman’s sentiments, the purchase would be good for the county’s finances.

"I’m inclined to agree," said Commissioner Carlos Gimenez, "but if we say no, we say no on behalf of the county, and it is a good deal."

The purchase would save Miami-Dade $7.2 million over 15 years, according to staff reports, because without it, the county would have to build a plant to serve three buildings it plans to construct.

Commission Vice Chairman Dennis Moss moved to defer – a gesture that won the support of his colleagues. The contract comes back before commissioners today (3/9).

"The problem with deferring," Mr. Moss said, "is that we’re playing a game of chicken here."

He and Mr. Martinez urged representatives of the company to come back with alternatives for consideration today.