BRADENTON, Fla. — Ten volunteers are interested in serving on the Santa Rosa Bay Bridge Authority that oversees the defaulted bonds sold to build the 3.5-mile-long tolled Garcon Point Bridge in North Florida.
Resumes of the 10 had been submitted to the Santa Rosa County Commission as of Monday, said county spokeswoman Joy Tsubooka.
Commissioners, who must fill vacancies on the SRBBA, only began accepting resumes on Sept. 22. That same day, Bank of New York Mellon formally notified the bond market that it would provide financial support to the board, including the payment of liability insurance for officers and directors.
“We have three appointments that we need to fill,” Tsubooka said. “I think a lot of people were hesitant [to apply before] because of liability.”
Five of seven board members had resigned since last November, when the Securities and Exchange Commission began an investigation into disclosure practices of the bridge agency, which for years has lacked funding for support services or liability insurance because its toll revenues fell short of meeting debt service requirements.
The SRBBA board has been unable to hold a meeting this year because it could not muster a quorum of four members. The authority, which sold bonds in 1996 to build the bridge, had its first payment default on $115.9 million of outstanding debt July 1 after depleting reserves.
Currently, there are only two active board members — area resident Morgan Lamb and Tommy Barfield, secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation’s northwest district.
Lamb is an appointee of the governor, who has two more positions to fill.
BNY Mellon said in its Sept. 22 notice that it would use funds authorized in the SRBBA’s bond resolution to pay for an attorney, a board clerk, and liability insurance for up to a year.
Quotes for the insurance were being obtained, the bank said.
Written agreements for the funding had not been signed as of Monday, Lamb said. He added that he was not certain if new board appointments could be made in time for a regularly scheduled board meeting Oct. 19.
County commissioners will discuss the schedule for their appointments next week, according to Tsubooka.
“It’s the discretion of the board as to how they want to proceed,” she said.
Rep. Doug Broxson, a Republican from Gulf Breeze whose district includes the bridge, brokered the agreement with the BNY Mellon to provide financial support for the SRBBA.
Broxson said no one would serve on the board without proper support, particularly since there were no funds to provide board members with legal representation in the SEC investigation.
A functioning board is necessary to work on the SRBBA’s financial problems, he said.