Miami-Dade County mayor proposes $2.5B infrastructure bond

Miami-Dade County, Florida Mayor Daniella Levine Cava proposed a $2.5 billion bond referendum to fund infrastructure projects, which voters will decide in November.

Proceeds from the “305 Future Ready” bonds would fund housing, septic to sewer conversions, flood prevention and resilient parks, Levine Cava said during her State of the County address Wednesday night at the Miami Zoo. The 305 is from Miami’s area code.

In her State of the County address, Mayor Levine Cava unveiled plans to invest in housing, septic to sewer conversions, flood prevention and parks and other infrastructure projects.

Bloomberg News

“We have laid the foundation and we must continue to build — so our kids and grandkids can rely on transit to get them where they need to go, enjoy an environment just as beautiful as it is protected, grow up in safe communities, and get good jobs in the new workforce,” she said.

The mayor will work with County Commissioner Danielle Cohen Higgins to craft a referendum for voters on the November ballot.

“This bond will be a once-in-a-generation investment in infrastructure, preparing Miami-Dade County for a thriving future,” Cohen Higgins said. “I’m proud to partner with the mayor in an effort that will transform our county for generations to come.”

The mayor also outlined plans for 2024, which include continuing the “SMART Program” to build five transit corridors, providing additional investments in infrastructure and maintenance at the Miami International Airport and building a waste sustainability campus that will change the way the county manages solid waste.

“The state of the county is strong. We got here today because we were brave in the face of adversity, we were bold in the face of uncertainty, and we were courageous in laying the foundation for the future,” Levine Cava said.

She also highlighted her administration’s accomplishments, such as investment in affordable housing, relief programs for renters, seniors and homeowners, investment in stormwater management projects and advancements in septic to sewer conversions, among others.

“Over the last three years as your mayor, we have seen Miami-Dade has grown, it has changed,” she said. “It has grown stronger despite many challenges. Now we are the community of the future, we’re the place people want to be.”

She noted the many firms and businesses that have opened offices or relocated to Miami-Dade County in the past few years.

In December, BNP Paribas Securities Corp. opened a Miami office, which is expected to create up to 50 full-time professional jobs in South Florida over the next year.

It joined a number of other financial firms in opening up shop in the Miami area, such as Goldman Sachs, Blackstone Group, D1 Capital Partners, Tiger Global Management, Virtu Financial and Citadel.

“Now the future is here and with it the new economy,” she said. “The world is watching and investing in us. Miami-Dade generates an annual gross domestic product of nearly $185 billion. In the past year alone, 6,000 new jobs were created. Unemployment now stands at the low 1.6% behind the state average of 3%.”

Since 2013, the county has sold about $19 billion of debt, with the most issuance occurring in 2020 when it offered about $2.9 billion of bonds.

In July, the county competitively sold almost $178 million of new money bonds to finance a variety of projects and initiatives around the county.

Proceeds went to finance programs for the general government and the departments of health and society, neighborhood and infrastructure, public safety, recreation and culture, fiber optic infrastructure, fire rescue and police, a computer-aided dispatch program, the county’s cybersecurity strategic evolution plan, and the quality neighborhood initiative.

The bonds were rated Aa2 by Moody’s Investors Service and AA by S&P Global Ratings. Both rating agencies assign stable outlooks to the credit.

In December, the county  came to market with a $449 million of taxable revenue bond sale for PortMiami that had been delayed by rising interest rates.

Proceeds from the deal, along with additional monies, will be used to fund the costs of a Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. office campus project as well as a debt service reserve fund. PortMiami is operated as an enterprise of the county and has the county’s implicit and direct support.

“None of this would have been possible without strong financial health,” she said, praising the county’s budget, finance and audit teams. “The county always achieves award winning bond ratings, which allows us to get better today and tomorrow.”

In 2021, the Miami-Dade County Seaport Department won The Bond Buyer’s 20th annual Deal of the Year award for PortMiami’s $1.24 billion seaport revenue refunding bonds.

The financing was the largest port transaction to come to market in the country since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and the high demand for the bonds highlighted investor confidence in the seaport sector.

In November, voters approved a charter amendment by an almost four-to-one margin which requires voter approval if the County Commissioners want to transfer the ownership or the governing authority of PortMiami, the Miami International Airport or the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority to the state for any reason.

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