Miamidade General Funds Could Be Tapped To Build Marlins Stadium If Other Sources Fall Short
Written by Risa Polansky on February 5, 2009
By Risa Polansky
General county funds could be spent to build a Marlins ballpark should designated tourism and sports taxes fall short.
Newly unveiled stadium contracts, which still require commission votes, provide an out for all players — Miami-Dade County, Miami and the Marlins — allowing them to walk away without penalty should financing or other issues arise before the out clause’s June 30 deadline.
By July 1, if all remain in the game, the county must meet a $382.5 million obligation even if it means issuing debt in the future or tapping other sources, including non ad valorem revenues, the deal says.
The contract notes that "essential government services" come first, but designating general funds as a backup worries some commissioners.
"I would love to keep the team here, but not at the cost of using money from general funds," Commissioner Joe Martinez said.
Commission Chair Dennis Moss, in favor of building the stadium but wary of troubled financial markets, pointed to the out clause as a safety net.
"The good thing about the agreement is there is an out for either of the parties," he said.
The deal is unclear as to whether a commission vote must trigger the out clause or use of funding outside of the identified tourism and sports taxes.
If by July 1 the dedicated funding is insufficient, the commission would meet to consider tapping other funds or backing out, the deal says — but by July 1, the out clause would already have expired.
Contracts stipulate it’s up to the county mayor or his designee to make decisions on behalf of the county except in cases specifying a commission vote is needed.
County officials did not answer a written list of questions about the contract.