Extension of Property Tax Discount in Miami-Dade and Potentially Other Counties

On September 4, 2017, Governor Scott issued Executive Order 17-235 in response to anticipated severe damage across Florida due to Hurricane Irma. The Executive Order granted the Florida Department of Revenue authority to issue an Emergency Order to waive and extend the local taxing authorities’ compliance deadlines related to the budget process and associated setting of millages and special assessment rates.

On September 6, 2017, the Department of Revenue, pursuant to the authority granted under Executive Order 17-235, issued an Emergency Order, as amended on September 8, 2017, suspending the compliance deadlines for the budget approval process and the setting of millage and special assessment rates for ad valorem and non-ad valorem taxes.

Miami-Dade County utilized the extension through its budget adoption hearing process and is availing itself of the extended time frames to delay mailing of the tax notices, which in turn extends the statutory early payment discount until 30 days from the mailing of the tax notices. Continue Reading

P3 Legislative Update

Legislators at both the state and local level have been busy introducing and considering new legislation that could impact the government procurement process and public/private partnerships. These new provisions will fundamentally affect the way business is done with any governmental entity, from basic discussions about potential P3 projects to the final negotiation of a contract for the provision of goods or services.

Bills currently in the state legislative pipeline will, if adopted, affect the Public Records Law. For example, House Bill 459 seeks to remove the trade secret exemption from the Public Records Law for all agencies where a trade secret exemption is currently in effect, resulting in an expansion in the scope of records that must be made public. In the context of procurement, the trade secret protection has allowed a bidder to propose alternative technical concepts or other ideas that the bidder views as a competitive advantage with a granting authority. That is why, on the other hand, House Bill 461 seeks to solidify the exemption from the public records requirements for trade secrets, and provide a process by which the exemption can be enforced. The bill puts the onus on the firm holding the trade secret to defend it. If a public records request seeks documents containing the trade secrets, the firm must file an action in circuit court seeking a declaratory judgment that the record in fact does contain a trade secret to prevent disclosure. Finally, Senate Bill 192 provides a narrow exemption from the Florida Public Records Law for fact-finding exercises by a board or commission, which is consistent with existing Florida caselaw. These proposed bills are just a few among others that are being introduced this year. We are closely monitoring each bill to make sure that your business is ready for any change in the already complex government approval and procurement process. Continue Reading

Creativity in Funding Necessary for Miami-Dade Civil Courthouse P3 Success

As Miami-Dade County continues to take steps towards the launch of a proposed civil courthouse public-private partnership (P3), its representatives have stressed the need to bring the right deal to market, balancing the community’s goals of improved court capacity and accessibility with existing funding challenges.  The final project could combine an availability model DBFOM with real estate development, which would create a unique opportunity for international equity investors and construction companies to partner with real estate developers familiar with the Miami market.

The population of Miami-Dade County today is twenty-five times greater than it was when the County planned its existing courthouse facility in 1925.  To facilitate the increased judicial demand that comes with population growth, courthouse services have since been spread across the County.  The County has long recognized the need to improve its existing judicial infrastructure.  In 2014, the County sought to fund construction of a new courthouse through the issuance of general obligation bonds.  However, the bond financing was not favored by voters.  While the County continues to leave open the possibility of a different delivery model, the P3 model now appears to be the preferred approach to the courthouse project. Continue Reading

Third Annual P3 Hub South

The third annual P3 Hub South conference, hosted by the P3 Bulletin and in partnership with Bilzin Sumberg, is returning to Miami October 16th – 17th. This year’s conference hosts both local and national leaders in the public-private partnership (P3) industry who will participate in interviews, panels, and informal networking discussions. P3 projects related to transit, water, and social programs are among some of the topics that will be covered throughout the two-day event.

The conference begins on Monday, October 16, with a roundtable discussion, chaired by Bilzin Sumberg Land Development & Government Relations attorney Albert E. Dotson, Jr. The “speed-dating” format presents an opportunity for networking between delegates and public officials who will be matched to discuss P3 opportunities and developments in key markets within the region.

The day will end with a networking reception hosted by Bilzin Sumberg. The P3 team looks forward to introducing its newest member, Land Development & Government Relations attorney Andrej Micovic, who has substantial experience in the development, procurement, financing, construction, and purchase and sale of infrastructure and energy projects, in the United States and throughout Latin America. Continue Reading

Proposed Changes to Procurement Regulations May Facilitate P3s

Miami-Dade County, the largest jurisdiction in South Florida, is currently evaluating public-private partnerships (P3s) for several major infrastructure projects.  These include multi-billion-dollar upgrades to the County’s water and sewer infrastructure, new transportation infrastructure, and social infrastructure, including a new County courthouse.  As we have discussed in previous posts, the P3 model can be used to expedite delivery, reduce public costs, and transfer risks for major public projects of this type.  However, many P3s unfortunately do not make it out of the procurement phase, in part because existing procurement regulations were drafted decades ago, with traditional procurement, not P3s, in mind.

Fortunately, the County is currently considering two significant amendments to its procurement procedures, both of which may facilitate the utilization of the P3 model.   First, the Charter Review Task Force (which proposes changes to the County’s voter-adopted Charter, which in a sense serves as the County’s constitution) is considering a substantial restructuring of the procurement process. The proposed changes would, in effect, make the procurement process more administrative and less legislative, with more authority delegated to the County’s professional staff, as opposed to the elected officials.  Because P3s are generally more complex than traditional procurements, delegating more authority to professionals with appropriate expertise may help avoid pitfalls in the procurement process for P3s. Continue Reading

FDEP Issues Order to Restore Structural Damage Post Hurricane

Property Owners and Public and Private Entities:

On September 5, 2017, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (“FDEP”) issued Emergency Final Order OGC. No. 17-0989 (the “Order”) in response to the anticipated widespread devastation across Florida caused by Hurricane Irma. In order to respond to the imminent or immediate danger to the public health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of the State of Florida, FDEP provided an order to allow property owners and public and private entities to repair, replace, and restore structures, equipment, surface water management systems, works, and other systems damaged by the hurricane without obtaining prior permits, which would cause significant delays. The following regulated areas are impacted by the Order:

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P3s for Social Impact

Government agencies at all levels are increasingly turning to public-private partnerships (P3s) for the delivery of new public infrastructure.  However, the discussion often focuses exclusively on transportation infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and mass transit.  This focus is understandable: throughout the country, government transportation agencies, such as the Florida Department of Transportation, have been on the cutting edge of P3s and have many successful projects to show for it.  In addition, our nation’s transportation infrastructure needs are severe and wide-ranging.  However, the focus on transportation infrastructure short-changes the flexibility and benefit of the P3 model, which can be used to develop and operate many types of infrastructure, including social infrastructure.

Florida’s authorizing statute for P3s is incredibly broad and authorizes P3 proposals for a wide variety of social infrastructure, including medical facilities, schools, and recreational facilities.  For example, Monroe County recently utilized the statute to develop and operate an animal-control shelter in Key West using the P3 model, and the City of St. Augustine recently received an unsolicited P3 proposal for the construction and operation of a community health clinic for local veterans. The sky is the limit. Continue Reading

Additional Opportunity to Extend Development Orders & Building Permits

Governor Scott recently expanded the previously declared State of Emergency issued for the Zika Virus, allowing holders of permits and development orders an even greater opportunity to toll the period remaining to exercise rights under the permit or order for more than 19 months. Section 252.363 of the Florida Statutes permits a tolling of development orders and permits upon the declaration of a state of emergency by the Florida Governor. The statute provides that the tolling lasts throughout the state of emergency, plus an additional six months.

On June 23, 2016, Governor Scott declared a State of Emergency in response to the Zika Virus. Because each declared state of emergency can last only for 60 days, the Governor has since extended the Zika Virus State of Emergency six times, with the most recent extension occurring on June 8, 2017. Thus, the total duration of the Zika Virus State of Emergency is now 410 days. Continue Reading

Mexico’s Presence in Miami Is Here to Stay

The Consul General of Mexico in Miami, Horacio Saavedra (center), and Bilzin Sumberg attorney Jose Sariego (right)  at the Mexican Attorney Breakfast hosted by Bilzin Sumberg.

The image of Mexicans in Florida is usually framed around the immigration debate raging in our country currently. But the Mexican influence and presence in Florida goes far beyond migrant workers picking crops in Homestead and elsewhere in the state.

According to the Mexican Consulate in Miami, approximately 290,000 jobs in Florida are dependent on commerce with Mexico, including more than 5,000 jobs in the tourist sector directly dependent on Mexico tourism. More than 50 Florida based businesses have investments in Mexico, including Ryder Systems, World Fuel Services, Seaboard Marine and FTI Consulting. Mexicans invest $5 billion annually in Florida real estate, according to the National Association of Realtors.

These and other positive contributions by Mexicans in Florida were discussed by the new Mexican Consul in Miami, Horacio Saavedra, who arrived from Frankfort to take his post a scant three weeks ago. Consul Saavedra addressed a group of Mexican and other lawyers at a quarterly breakfast held at Bilzin Sumberg last Friday to discuss topics of interest to the Mexican business community. Continue Reading

You Are the Target: 75 Different Ways Your Company Can Be Hacked

Target - Blog 2Join us on Thursday, June 15th from 12:00PM to 1:00PM for an in-depth webinar as Philip R. Stein, a partner in Bilzin Sumberg’s Litigation Practice, and Ray Vasquez, a director in Enterprise Risk Management’s Cybersecurity and IT Risk Management practice, discuss primary cybersecurity risks and leading practices.

They will discuss the reasons why a business may be targeted by cybercriminals, steps that can be taken to better safeguard private data, and fiduciary or professional responsibility obligations associated with protecting confidential information. Learn about best practices following a data breach, including certain actions that should be part of a company’s response.

Click here to register for this CLE-accredited webinar.

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