Written by Miami Today on June 4, 2009
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MOUND CONFERENCE: Should Miami-Dade fail to sell all $297.5 million in bed tax-backed bonds set to fund a Marlins stadium, commissioners are to hold a special meeting at 9 a.m. June 19 to discuss whether to tap a different funding source or kill the deal. July 1 is the cutoff to pull out. "We could be going to market for pricing as late as that week [of the 19th]," County Manager George Burgess said at a commission meeting Tuesday. "Immediately thereafter we want to inform the board of our success or lack thereof." Last week, county officials said the plan was to sell the bonds June 9 and 10. Hurdles still remain. In a memo last week touting favorable bond ratings from three major agencies, he cautioned that "certain hurdles remain": a bond insurance commitment for sports tax-backed financing and a letter of credit related to a portion of the sports tax financing that’s variable rate. Those issues are still unresolved.
DIG IT: Once-dead plans for $1 billion-plus twin tunnels to the Port of Miami live. The state and the contract team tapped to build and operate the tunnels met the June 1 deadline to settle on contract terms. Now, the team must secure financing by Oct. 1. "That’s not simple," County Manager George Burgess said at a commission meeting Tuesday. But he said it’s "doable." He noted that, though it’s taken years to cement a contract, in agreeing to the terms the contract team submitted in bidding for the project in 2007, "nothing related to the county’s involvement in the tunnel project changed one iota… our deal is the same deal." The county is to contribute $402 million to the project. Commissioner Dorrin Rolle, chair of the county’s Airport and Seaport Committee, hailed the benchmark with his signature saying: "you done good."
ANTSY OVER ARTS: Miami-Dade commissioners Tuesday agreed to allow a 19-member task force to convene for five months to address economic challenges facing local arts groups. But some questioned the plan, proposed by Rebeca Sosa. Though the task force is to be made up of volunteers, county employees are to spend their time at the meetings — and therefore cost money, José "Pepe" Diaz said. Joe Martinez questioned why the committee members — many major arts players — were selected before commissioners weighed in. Answer: the group is not an official board but a temporary committee that’s to disband once it’s done. The group is to address sustainability of local arts programs, possible consolidation of groups, arts organizations’ fiscal viability and whether county arts facilities are overbuilt. Ms. Sosa stressed the group must consider major arts organizations as well as small groups. Said Mr. Martinez of the pre-selected board members: "There are no little fishes here, Commissioner Sosa. They’re all big fishes. Big donor fishes."