Dec 6 - Fitch Ratings affirms the 'AA' rating on the following Florida Ports
Financing Commission bonds:
--$10.65 million refunding revenue bonds (state transportation trust fund),
series 2011A (non-AMT);
--$141.24 million refunding revenue bonds (state transportation trust fund),
series 2011B (AMT);
--$66.3 million refunding revenue bonds (state transportation trust
fund-intermodal program), series 2011A (non-AMT);
--$47 million refunding revenue bonds (state transportation trust
fund-intermodal program), series 2011B (AMT).
The Rating Outlook is Stable.
The bonds are limited and special obligations of the commission, payable solely
from $25 million appropriated annually from motor vehicle license tax revenues
deposited into the state transportation trust fund, subordinate to the state
education capital outlay distribution and $25 million for general transportation
KEY RATING DRIVERS
FIXED APPROPRIATION FOR DEBT SERVICE: The bonds are secured by statutorily
dedicated annually appropriated fixed dollar payments from motor vehicle license
AMPLE DEBT SERVICE COVERAGE: Motor vehicle license tax revenue is available to
the bonds only after prior pledges for state education capital outlay and
general transportation purposes; however, debt service represents a small
portion of the available revenues, net of the prior pledges.
NO ADDITIONAL BORROWING: No additional borrowing is authorized or anticipated.
The commission was created as part of the state's economic development plans to
provide financial assistance to the state's deep water ports in an effort to
improve their economic competitiveness and value. The commission issued the two
series of revenue bonds in 1996 and 1999, which have since been refunded by the
bonds currently outstanding, as matching funds for several of the state's ports.
The commission loaned the proceeds of the bonds to the ports pursuant to
separate loan agreements individually entered into between each of the ports and
the commission, with the loans to be repaid only from appropriated motor vehicle
license tax revenues. No additional new money authorization is available, and
there are no plans for additional issuance.
Technically, the bonds are secured by payments from the participating port
borrowers under loan agreements, but these payments derive solely from the
assignment by the borrowers of moneys due them from the state transportation
trust fund (i.e. the fixed annual allocation of motor vehicle license taxes) and
the participating ports have assigned their right, title, and interest in their
allocation to the trustee for their respective shares of debt service. The bonds
are not general obligations of the commission, the ports, or the state of
Florida, and security does not depend on the operations of the ports or the
Motor vehicle license tax revenue is available for the bonds only after
constitutionally dedicated distributions for state education capital outlay
(distributable by formula to school and community college districts, $119
million in fiscal 2012). The license taxes remaining after the education
distribution are dedicated to transportation uses of the state, with $25 million
for transportation purposes prior to appropriation for the commission's bonds.
The motor vehicle license tax is an annual tax for the operation of motor
vehicles, including auto, motorcycle, truck, and recreational vehicles. The
state increased the tax rates effective Sept. 1, 2009. The Florida Department of
Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles collects the tax. Fiscal 2012 net revenues
available for transportation purposes total $640 million, providing
approximately 13.3 times (x) coverage of the $25 million prior transportation
pledge and the $25 million appropriation for the bonds. Total motor vehicle
license tax revenues in fiscal 2012 provided 4.6x coverage of the prior
distribution for state education capital outlay, the $25 million for
transportation purposes, and the $25 million bond appropriation.
The STTF bonds and the STTF - Intermodal program bonds are separately secured,
with the $15 million appropriation for the STTF senior to the $10 million
appropriation for the STTF - Intermodal program bonds. This is not a credit
factor given the large amount of available revenues for the appropriation. Bond
issuance is limited to the amount of debt that can be serviced by the fixed