Funding for new art, science museums likely delayed as Miami fights budget constraints
By Risa Polansky
New art and science museums slated for downtown Miami may feel the pinch as Miami-Dade re-works its general obligation bond program schedule under economic pressure.
The plan is to continue doling bond money through the design phase, capital improvements Director Johnny Martinez said. But "I don't believe the program has the capacity for the full blown-out construction of the museums now."
The museums over time are to get a combined $275 million.
"In the short run, there is no way that we can fund all of the competing needs," capital budget coordinator Charles Parkinson Jr. said. "So we certainly over the next 24 months cannot fund what is required of the museums…. But that doesn't mean that a portion of their funding can't get going if they're ready for it."
Science museum chief Gillian Thomas said "there's always been the question of whether all the funding would come along at the same time."
The issue isn't if the money's coming, she said, but "whether we need other financing arrangements in the short period," like leveraging donations.
The county faces a shrunken tax roll and lower-than-expected debt service millage.
Officials foresaw a $400 million bond sale next year but now plan about $280 million.
County Manager George Burgess said it's "unbelievably premature" to say which projects will get that funding, and how much.
Multi-year projects don't need it all at once, he said, "so even if something is in this sale at a lower amount… there is a sale in two years."
And the bond program was always long term.
All will get built, Mr. Martinez said. But "many of the timelines are going to be affected."
The art museum's Terry Riley said he spoke to a county official he wouldn't name and is confident.
"As far as we're concerned, we'll be in the ground this year, 2010."