There has been a lot of talk about the General Obligation Bond (the “GOB”) issue. There is a group of residents claiming that voting for the GOBs gives a “blank check” to the village council. They further claim that the projects are not fully ready and that the GOB issue is premature. I respectfully disagree.
The village council, right now, has the power to incur debt for the village. We can approve all of the projects we’re contemplating without using GOBs. But, without GOBs, the projects will be more expensive because of the debt service.
Under Florida law, the village cannot issue GOBs without a vote of the electorate. The village can issue revenue bonds without any such votes. But GOBs offer lower interest rates over longer terms, thus reducing the annual debt service. That is the issue before you on Election Day: Do you want the council to be able to consider a cheaper way to finance needed projects?
Voting for the GOBs does not commit the village to doing any specific project, even though several are ready to move forward, including beach projects, stormwater projects and undergrounding of utilities. But, in approving the use of GOBs, we are showing our resolve as a community to tackle much needed, long-discussed infrastructure projects that we know will improve our island and raise our property values.
Every project being contemplated will still have to be vetted before council with stringent specificity, whether or not we use GOBs. Before we issue any individual bond, we will specifically define what each tranche will be used for, and the terms under which we take on that debt.
Hopefully, residents will take part in those deliberations and voice their suggestions and concerns as we move forward. It is, after all, our community, our island, our Key Biscayne.
The Question before the Voters is simple: Do you want the Village Council to be able to consider a financing option that could provide a better, less expensive way of financing debt for critically needed infrastructure projects?
If you do, you should vote FOR the bonds.
Davey is mayor of the Village of Key Biscayne.