Miami-Dade County officials plan early next month to begin the sale of bonds backed by tourist tax dollars to pay for construction of the Marlins' new ballpark, after getting results from bond rating agencies.
According to a memo County Manager George Burgess sent county commissioners today, county officials got word late last week that the agencies -- Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch Ratings –- “reaffirm the relative quality of investing in Miami-Dade County and the strength of its credit.” A news release issued by the county late today, said the agencies had “given the County solid marks, determining that our tourism sector is sound in the long run and bonds backed by tourist dollars are good investments.”
County officials had visited the agencies in late April, to make their case that tourist taxes are a strong source to repay the bonds needed to pay for the $515 million ballpark. The county’s case came in the midst of the recession, which has seen local hotel bed tax dollars plummet. County officials and ballpark supporters argue hotel taxes fluctuate and won’t always be in decline during the 40-year life of the ballpark agreement.
The agencies, Burgess’ memo says, are expected to announce their findings in their own press releases. The county’s own up-beat press release acknowledges that not all of the ratings have been determined.
I’m the first to admit this is not my area of expertise, but here’s part of what the statement says:
Standard and Poor’s assigned an “A+” to the Professional Sports Franchise Tax (PST) credit, affirmed the Convention Development Tax (CDT) credit an “A” and affirmed the County’s general obligation rating at “AA-”. Moody’s assigned an “A2” to the PST credit. A rating for the CDT financing is expected soon. Fitch Rating’s assigned an “A” with a stable outlook to both the PST credit and CDT credit. In addition, Fitch Rating’s reaffirmed the general obligation as well as the public service tax bond rating an “AA-”.
Both Burgess and County Mayor Carlos Alvarez complimented the county’s ratings results.
“We are pleased with the outcome,” Alvarez said in a statement. “The ratings are solid and demonstrate the County’s financial strength. An investment in Miami-Dade County is a quality investment.”
“The favorable ratings reinforce our commitment to acting responsibly and conservatively every step of the way as we push forward with a Marlins stadium paid for by tourist tax dollars,” Burgess said.