BRADENTON, Fla. Early voting is under way in Miami-Dade County where voters are being asked whether they will tax themselves to issue $830 million in general obligation bonds for the public Jackson Health System.
If voters approve the 30-year bonds, proceeds would be used to modernize, improve, and equip Jackson Health System’s facilities throughout the state’s most populous county.
Florida’s largest health system, the third-largest in the country, currently consists of the flagship and five other facilities, including a children’s hospital.
In addition to numerous facility upgrades, bonds would also enable Jackson to bring medical services to neighborhoods with new urgent care centers.
A children’s ambulatory center would also be built to complement the larger children’s hospital, and upgrades of medical records and other infrastructure improvements would occur.
Early voting runs through Nov. 3. The election is Nov. 5.
Jackson Health needs the infusion of capital funding because the system’s revenues are not keeping up with expenses, and during the financial crisis the system did not have resources to invest much in capital needs or expansion efforts, according to President Carlos Migoya.
The financial crisis was particularly difficult for Jackson, which also suffered large deficits that led the County Commission, which oversees the board of directors known as the Public Health Trust, to appoint a financial oversight panel.
The panel was dissolved in April, and Migoya said the health system is on target to have a surplus this fiscal year.
In the midst of the fiscal troubles, the SEC opened an inquiry into an $83.3 million bond deal that Miami-Dade County sold in 2009 on behalf of the PHT.
On Sept. 13, the SEC charged the Health Trust with defrauding investors by failing to disclose its financial problems before the 2009 offering.
The PHT agreed to a cease and desist order barring it from future violations of securities laws. As part of the settlement, the PHT did not admit or deny the SEC’s findings.
The SEC said the Health Trust cooperated with the investigation and took remedial action, including hiring outside consultants and restructuring the board.