Additional discussion fails to sway council; $100 million bond vote still on for Nov. 3

Additional discussion fails to sway council; $100 million bond vote still on for Nov. 3

Both supporters of and those opposed to the General Obligation Bond funding strategy for resiliency projects on Key Biscayne stuck by their guns during the Thursday virtual meeting of the Village Council. At the end of the night, however, the effort to roll back a voter referendum on allowing the council to use the bonds to finance resiliency projects failed.

Meaning the $100 million bond issue will remain on the Nov. 3 ballot. Voters will be able to decide if the village can tap into bonds to address sea level rise and flooding, protect beaches and shorelines and harden infrastructure.

Council member Luis Lauredo had requested the meeting to allow for more public input on the bond issue. Lauredo had also led the effort to rescind. About 25 people attended Thursday’s special meeting.

The council previously scrapped an additional vote that would have extended the village debt cap from $82 million to the $100 million estimate for a slate of projects.

Supporting the bond initiative, and the Nov. 3 referendum, were Mayor Mike Davey, Vice Mayor Brett Moss and council members Ed London, Katie Petros and Allison McCormick.

Councilmember Ignacio Segurola joined Lauredo in voting to rescind the Nov. 3 vote.

Callers who got through to the virtual meeting – a difficulty at times-- represented both camps, but the overwhelming majority of the calls supported placing the referendum on the Nov 3 ballot. 

Supporters touted the bonds as “another arrow in the quiver” for future long term financing, with possible lower interest rates, to pay for resiliency projects. Several stressed voter rights and supported the move to let the question be addressed during what’s sure to be high voter turnout for the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Segurola contended that interest rates and other future financial considerations are unknown. He and Lauredo believe the bonds would be a “blank check” for future councils, which would not be required to hold individual referendums for specific projects.

None of the original five supporters of the bond referendum changed their votes, so the referendum remains on track -- marking the start of “educational” campaigns from both sides in advance of the Nov. 3 vote.

Petros said the council agrees resiliency and infrastructure projects should be planned. The difference in opinion, she said, is how the projects are approved by voters and financed. “It’s really about how to get (it) done. The first step is the education process.”

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