County Commissioners Debate Bond Costs
By Susan Stabley
Miami-Dade County will need about $140 million to finance its $2.85 billion General Obligation Bond – a figure Commissioner Jimmy Morales says is too much.
Commissioner Morales questioned the amount Tuesday during a meeting to consider eight referendum questions that could go to voters Nov. 8.
County staff told commissioners that 2% is usually set aside to finance and administer bond issues. Commissioner Morales countered that $140 million is about 5% of the value of the bond proposal.
"We do want to err on the cautious side," County Manager George Burgess said.
There is a big difference between $54 million and $140 million, Commissioner Morales said. "I’d like to get some comfort," he told Mr. Burgess. "We’ve estimated a very high number."
The commissioner told staffers they "need to get to the bottom of that number."
Commissioners were told a bond issue would not cause taxes to increase, but Mr. Burgess added a caveat that as properties increase in value, so will taxes.
The county will retire the debt on a $553 million bond from 1972 that financed Metrozoo, Metrorail and other projects. If the new bond, dubbed Building Better Communities, is approved by voters, debt payments would begin as the old bond is retired.
The new bond issue, broken into several questions on the ballot, would cover a variety of projects – from infrastucture and parks to health-care and cultural facilities.
Commissioner Morales asked Mr. Burgess if staff had determined how much facilities created by the bond would cost the county.
Mr. Burgess said staffers have made no estimate. Clearly, operating new parks, he said, "is going to have an impact."