BRADENTON, Fla. — Miami-Dade County commissioners will consider placing a $540 million bond issue on the November ballot to finance the construction of a new courthouse.

An analysis of the transaction indicates that the county would need $25 million to make repairs at the existing courthouse while a new $368 million, 620,000-square-foot facility is under way.

Those costs would be part of a general obligation bond issuance totaling approximately $540 million that would also include refinancing about $132 million in existing court debt, according to an analysis by Mayor Carlos Gimenez.

"The strategy will allow the county to free up approximately $13 million in traffic surcharge proceeds, which could be used to support the county's operating program needs," Gimenez said in a report to the county commissioners.

If approved by voters, it is estimated that the countywide debt service millage rate would increase an average of 0.09 mills over the life of the bonds using current property value growth assumptions.

For the average homesteaded property with a taxable value of $200,000, the extra millage rate would increase the tax bill by $18 annually, the mayor's report said.
County commissioners are expected to consider the plan of finance at their meeting in September, which would include whether to ask voters to approve the GO bond issuance.

Commissioners ordered the report in July, and asked the mayor's office to work with Chief Judge Bertila Soto on capital needs for the existing and new civil courthouses, and financing recommendations.

The county already owns a 37,000-sqare-foot parcel that would support a new courthouse with up to 25 floors, so no additional land would need to be purchased, according to Gimenez's report.

The current courthouse is 273,884-square-feet with 26 courtrooms used by 41 judges. If there was one courtroom per judge, a 430,500-square-foot building would be necessary.

However, 11 new judges are expected to be added bringing the total number to 52 in the future.

"In considering the future growth projected by the courts to the 52 courtrooms plus associated space required by support services, the planners project a total need of 620,000 square feet," said the mayor's report.

Associated services would include digital records and case filing systems, hearing rooms, judicial and administrative offices, clerk's offices, jury room space, and building support systems.

The report said county officials are also working with All Aboard Florida — a privately financed passenger train service that will eventually run between West Palm Beach, Miami, and Orlando — to determine if a new courthouse could be built as part of the train station development near the county's administrative center.

Voters in Miami-Dade County have supported other major bond-financed projects in recent years.

In 2013, voters approved the issuance of $830 million in GO bonds for new hospital facilities and equipment at the public Jackson Health System.

In a 2012 referendum, $1.2 billion in bonds were approved for new schools and upgrades at the Miami-Dade County School District.

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