Florida District 1 Senator Doug Broxson today issued a letter to Attorney William Bloom, the trustee representing Garcon Point Bridge bondholders, stating his intent to pursue new legislation in 2019 and asking them not to seek an increase in the toll.
Broxson opened the letter by explaining how efforts to legislatively resolve issues with the Santa Rosa County Bridge Authority were unsuccessful during the 2018 legislative session.
According to Broxson, the effort was based on a feasibility study conducted by the State of Florida. The proposed bills submitted by the Florida House and Florida Senate, used the same approach. The State would be allowed to take the findings of the study and begin negotiations with bond representatives in determining the value of your asset. Furthermore, if purchased, the bridge would be placed in the Florida Turnpike System, requiring a new bond issuance and allowing the retirement of bonds issued to your bondholders.
“The bills moved through both the House and Senate and appeared to be in position for passage by both bodies. However, in the House’s last committee of reference, there were considerable changes made to the bill. More specifically, the House removed all language related to the study and mandated a price certain of assets of the Authority, arbitrarily re-set the toll rates, and required that the State would offer cash for the purchase. This proposal did not include any appropriation and was not part of the House’s budget submitted to the Senate for consideration. With no appropriation included in the legislation, the bill died,” Broxson stated.
Broxson restated his commitment to find resolve in the matter. “Our office has worked diligently over the last several years to find an equitable solution for the citizens of Florida and the bondholders. It was our goal through legislation to place your bondholders in a position to receive a legitimate offer from the State based on the considerations outlined in the 2017 FDOT study. Although this was not successful during the 2018 legislative year, it is our desire to file legislation in 2019 to begin the process of a meaningful conclusion that will offer certainty to the residents of our region.”
In closing Broxson expressed intention to convene a conference between the parties to discuss proposals for resolving this issue and asked the trustee to continue tolls at their current price and not seek injunctive relief in forcing the proposed increase to $5.00.