FYI Miami: March 13, 2014
DORM DEFICIT: Florida International University is reviewing planned expansion of on-campus housing in light of “multiple private student developments nearby and stable enrollment forecasts,” according to Fitch Ratings, which gave $74.4 million in FIU dormitory revenue bonds an A+ rating and a stable outlook. Fitch said the university is expected to issue significant additional debt to finance more dorms. “Housing demand for the current semester exceeds capacity by more than 300 beds,” Fitch analysts said, though the university opened a 620-bed facility last fall. With a headcount of 52,980 students last fall, 32,063 were full time, roughly nine times the available dorm beds of 3,456, Fitch said. Vacancy was only 2%. Last year, Fitch said, the dorms operated at a 15.4% operating margin, as 300 more students than capacity wanted housing.
TIME’S UP: The days of parking meters in Miami are numbered. One day soon there may be no equipment employed in public parking other than the mobile device you hold in your hand. That was the discussion March 5 of Miami’s Off-Street Parking Board. Art Noriega, the Miami Parking Authority’s CEO, spoke about the eventual move to 100% Pay by Phone parking. Using a mobile application on smartphones, drivers secure a public parking space and pay with a credit card. Coconut Grove and several city neighborhoods have areas of Pay by Phone parking. The authority plans to launch 100% Pay by Phone in the popular Wynwood art district soon. “It’s a beta test. This is for real… we’re doing the entire district,” he said. Mr. Noriega said he spoke to a group in Coconut Grove recently and asked how many use Pay by Phone, and 60%-70% raised their hands. “They are very supportive of it. They understand the value of it, how easy it is to use,” said Mr. Noriega. “We want to take it to other areas: Brickell, downtown, the upper east side, Little Havana. But we won’t do anything until we have Wynwood rolled out.”
BID SELECTION TRAINING: County bid selection committees must now all be trained in the laws that require government in the sunshine as well as in the rules surrounding the county’s bid selection cone of silence. Up until last week, such training was optional for non-employees of the county on selection teams. But commissioners voted 9-0 with no discussion last week to make the training mandatory. Some commissioners have complained that selection committees have flip-flopped on choices and otherwise taken actions that could open the doors to bid protests by losers. Selection teams of at least five persons are appointed by a designee of the mayor to choose bid winners.