Florida Agency Postpones Consideration of Train Bonds

Register now

BRADENTON, Fla. - For a second time, a Florida agency has postponed a meeting to approve the bond resolution for the issuance of All Aboard Florida's $1.75 billion of private activity bonds.

The Florida Development Finance Corp., a state-created conduit issuer, announced that a June 10 meeting had been postponed because "travel logistics created uncertainty for convening a quorum," said agency spokesman Sean Helton.

No new date was announced.

The FDFC board currently consists of three members appointed by Gov. Rick Scott. The agency's enabling legislation calls for five members.

Attorneys for both Martin and Indian River counties and the Florida anti-passenger train group CARE have cited a number of reasons why they believe the FDFC cannot legally meet with only three board members.

The meeting to consider All Aboard's bond resolution has now been delayed two times. The May 28 meeting was cancelled at the request of AAF and others due to a scheduling conflict, according to the train company.

On May 29 a federal court hearing was held in Washington, D.C., to consider requests by the two Florida counties for injunctions seeking to block the bonds from being issued.

The injunctions are part of separate lawsuits filed by Indian River and Martin challenging the U.S. Department of Transportation's largest-ever PAB allocation for the private train project, which has not yet received federal environmental clearance.

The counties have said that the bond allocation was improper because it sidestepped the ongoing federal permitting process, and that they have environmental, safety, and archeological concerns that have not been addressed.

Martin County has also said that AAF should not have been awarded the tax-exempt bond financing because it does not comply with the definition of a high-speed rail project that can reach speeds in excess of 150 miles per hour. All Aboard Florida has said its trains will reach speeds up to 125 mph.

Federal Judge Christopher Cooper, who is presiding in both suits, has said he expects to rule on the injunctions by June 19.

The USDOT bond allocation currently is provisional and requires that the debt be issued by July 1.

However, an attorney for AAF told Cooper at the May 29 hearing that All Aboard will ask USDOT for an extension of the bond allocation.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.