BRADENTON, Fla. — Fitch Ratings is the third agency to withdraw its rating on $131.2 million of defaulted toll-bridge bonds issued by north Florida's Santa Rosa Bay Bridge Authority.
Before Tuesday's withdrawal, Fitch had assigned a D rating to the bonds since downgrading them from C on July 1, 2011 when the SRBBA's first debt service payment default occurred.
"This rating is withdrawn as it is no longer considered analytically meaningful," said a report by Fitch analyst Tanya Langman.
Defaults are ongoing as a result of continued poor traffic and revenue performance and "the authority's financial profile is extremely constrained leading to insufficient cash flow from operations to meet debt service obligations," she said.
The authority depleted its debt service reserve fund in March 2012. Debt service payments from July 1, 2011, Jan. 1, 2012, July 1, 2012, and Jan. 1, 2013 remain unpaid and "it currently appears gross revenues will be insufficient to pay scheduled debt service on the bonds for the foreseeable future," Langman said.
Bank of New York Mellon, the trustee, declared the principal of the outstanding bonds, $131.2 million, to be due and immediately payable earlier this year.
"While only $6.12 million was distributed for principal, the trustee expects to make periodic distributions of revenues in the future," according to Fitch.
In June 2012, Moody's Investors Service withdrew its Ca rating on the bonds saying it had "insufficient or otherwise inadequate information to support the maintenance of the rating."
Standard & Poor's on Nov. 16, 2011, withdrew the D rating it had posted on its website for the issue.
The SRBBA governing board is struggling to meet periodically. It is supposed to have seven members but currently has four.
In early April, the board voted to ask Gov. Rick Scott and the Santa Rosa County Commission to appoint additional members.
The board also agreed to ask the trustee to provide funds for an audit, which hasn't been done since at least 2000. The next meeting date is July 10.
BNY Mellon has paid for officers and directors insurance since early 2012 because there are no extra funds to pay for operations or legal expenses.
Bonds sold in 1996 were used to build the Garcon Point toll road in northwest Florida. It never met traffic projections and reserves were used to help make debt-service payments until the first payment default occurred in July 2011.