County Gets 15 Million Windfall From Bond Sale
By Suzy Valentine
Projects left out of the first allocation of Miami-Dade’s General Obligation Bond funds may be eligible for some of an added $15 million that a sale generated July 7.
Merrill Lynch won the bid to buy bonds at 4.5% – an interest rate that has produced $265 million, more than the $250 million allocated for 2005.
The sale doesn’t increase the total $2.9 billion in the countywide infrastructure bond package that voters approved in November but allows for a further $15 million in projects to be expedited this year.
"This isn’t another $10 million or $15 million of capacity above and beyond what the voters approved," said County Manager George Burgess. "That’s an absolute ceiling, but interest earnings on this can be used for eligible projects."
The current market is peculiar, said County Finance Director Rachel Baum.
"The market calls for premium bonds," she said. "People are willing to pay more for a given interest rate. Because people are willing to pay more to get a higher interest rate, that’s how we got $265 million."
The market may not be as favorable throughout the build-out, she said.
"This is a 15-year program so there may be times when the market changes, and at that time there are going to be discount bonds."
Project beneficiaries identified in May are to receive funds in a week.
The county commission next month is to consider which ones will share the $15 million windfall. The General Obligation Bond Program Subcommittee meets Aug. 16 and the full commission Aug. 23.
The Historical Museum of Southern Florida, the Miami Art Museum and the Museum of Science & Planetarium, which plan to build museums in Bicentennial Park, aren’t allocated funds for 2005 or 2006. They must match their $275 million combined awards before the county releases funds.