Florida Ports Financing Commission

On July 17, 1996, the Florida Ports Financing Commission (the Commission) was created by interlocal agreement among public entities pursuant to Section 320.20(3) and Chapter 163, Part I, F.S. This entity is a public body which meets in the sunshine, holds publicly advertised meetings, maintains public records, and whose actions are governed by all the Florida statutes pertaining to such bodies.

The Florida Ports Finance Commission is similar to other commissions and authorities formed by local governments, to offer efficiencies in financing public works projects. The rationale behind the Legislature’s granting such authority is that borrowing done through a group effort reduces the cost of issuance associated with such borrowing.

The responsibility of the Florida Ports Financing Commission is to accept a list of projects approved by the Florida Seaport Transportation and Economic Development Council (FSTED) and implement the bond funding program pursuant to statutory provisions. The Commission’s purpose is to provide a cost-effective means of financing various capital projects for Florida’s ports by issuing bonds and transferring the proceeds to the individual ports. The Commission and the Trustee entered into an Indenture of Trust, dated December 1, 1996, which authorized the issuance of $222,320,000 Florida Ports Financing Commission Revenue Bonds, Series 1996. The Commission and the Trustee also entered into an Indenture of Trust, dated September 1, 1999, which authorized the issuance of $153,115,000 Florida Ports Financing Commission Revenue Bond Series 1999, focused on intermodal transportation projects. Bonds were issued to provide funds to finance the costs of acquiring and constructing capital projects undertaken by Florida’s ports.

Individual loan agreements between the Commission and the ports provide that the ports will repay their loans solely from money received from the State Transportation Trust Fund (STTF). Pursuant to Sections 320.20(3) and 320.20(4), F.S., $15,000,000 and $10,000,000, respectively, of the revenues received by the State of Florida motor vehicle registration fees is deposited annually in the STTF for financing projects. The Department of Transportation and the Commission entered into two separate master agreements, one for each bond series, pursuant to which the Department of Transportation agreed to transfer the State money annually to escrow accounts held in the State Treasury, on behalf of the Trustee, which may be drawn upon by the Trustee to pay the debt services on the bonds. The ports assigned all of the rights, title and interest to these funds to the Trustee, on behalf of the Commission, to pay their portion of the debt service on the bonds.