City Mulls Payments For Tunnel
Written by Risa Polansky on September 20, 2007
By Risa Polansky
This month’s Florida Supreme Court ruling requiring voter approval on bonds financed by community redevelopment agencies toward large capital projects has not derailed Miami administrators’ plans to use redevelopment dollars for the city’s share of the $1 billion, Miami-Dade County and state-supported port tunnel project.
Rather than using a lump-sum, $50 million bond, city staff may propose a "pay-as-you-go" arrangement, City Manager Pete Hernandez said — circumventing the ominous court decision.
Administrators have for months named the Omni redevelopment agency as the sole source for the city’s contribution to the $1 billion-plus project, even in the face of resistance from commissioners, who sit as the agency board.
Despite the lack of support from the body controlling the purse, it took the court ruling to drive city staffers to explore alternate funding options.
So far, they have not identified another potential source for the money, Mr. Hernandez said, but could use an annual payment plan of redevelopment agency revenue — which could take 30 years to pay off — to pony up the city’s contribution, which is the only missing piece in the tunnel funding puzzle.
The project concessionaire has given the state, county and city until Sept. 30 to pin down the funds.
State and county officials at this point are concerned only with securing the city’s commitment to contribute the money, not "the source or the plans," Mr. Hernandez said.
Johnny Martinez, district six secretary for the Florida Department of Transportation, confirmed that the pay-as-you-go option would be acceptable.
Commissioners are to be asked Sept. 27 to authorize the money, Mr. Hernandez said, but the legislation pledging the $50 million contribution is not to name a source for the funds.