Shaken And Stirred: City's Bond Rating Plummets

Agency drops Miami bond rating from stable to negative

By Willard Shepard and Todd Wright
|  Tuesday, Jun 28, 2011  |  Updated 7:02 PM EDT
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Miami's bond rating drops from stable to negative.

Miami's bond rating drops from stable to negative.

The City of Miami's bond rating has been downgraded to negative, which has some local business owners worried about the city and their own financial outlook.

"We need the city of Miami to be able to provide us with amenities," said Alex Pilat, owner of La Sandwicherie.

The longtime business owner worries the latest financial news out of City Hall will cause businesses looking to relocate to find greener pastures outside the Magic City.

The bond rating agencies, Moody's and Fitch, both see a negative financial picture on the city’s horizon, dropping them from the "stable" rating.

Fitch said "the downgrade reflects the persistence of structural budgetary pressures and the further erosion of previously narrow reserves."

The downgrades from major rating firms could predict imminent disaster at City Hall, local bond expert Tom Tew said.

Tew said Fitch appears to be very concerned about the city’s ability to pay it debts if the courts require it to return $76 million to police and fire unions for money they were initially due under contracts.

"They don't have that money," Tew said.

The recent downgrade doesn't appear to concern Mayor Tomas Regalado, who said major projects like the Port of Miami tunnel and the new Florida Marlins stadium won't be impacted by the negative rating.

He said the city set money aside to cover the high interest rates in expectation of the city's bond rating taking a hit.

Regalado said he’s confident the city will win its legal battle with unions.

"We have won every legal case in the courts in the city by the unions," he said. "We are confident this will not come back to haunt us."

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