Billions in bonds reshape Port of Miami finances
To lock in historic low interest rates on Port of Miami debt while shoving much of the repayment off into the future in the wake of the pandemic’s impact, county commissioners last week unanimously and without discussion authorized three new bond issues totaling up to $2.3 billion to finance or refinance some seaport facilities.
The first issue is up to $250 million of Florida Seaport Revenue Bonds to finance improvements at the seaport.
The second bond issue is for up to $1.4 billion of “Initial Seaport Revenue Refunding Bonds for the purpose of refunding, and defeasing all the outstanding Seaport Revenue and Revenue Refunding Bonds and certain other outstanding indebtedness of the Seaport Department.”
The third is up to $650 million “of Additional Seaport Revenue Refunding bonds to refund certain outstanding indebtedness of the Seaport Department.”
The purpose of the ordinance, according to its memorandum, is to update a 1988 ordinance to issue bonds with provisions and terms consistent with current market practices “and therefore better facilitate the county’s financing objectives with respect to the Seaport Properties.”
Among its goals, the legislation aims at “locking in current interest rates on outstanding variable rate debt, fixing out commercial paper notes with long-term fixed rate debt.” Also, to provide debt cash flow relief for the next few years to mitigate the negative effects generated by the pandemic and to maximize the county’s flexibility when accessing the bond market.
The ordinance isn’t the only measure the county took to support Port of Miami operations. At the same meeting, commissioners unanimously provided a financial relief plan to cruise-only tenants and the issuance of Florida Seaport Commercial Paper notes for interim financing improvements to seaport properties.