Not all the bonds will be issued at the same time. Each portion sold by the administration will require prior commission approval. On Tuesday, the board approved the first $350 million sale, with Souto casting the lone dissenting vote.
The longest discussion related to the water and sewer fixes came over a pair of bid solicitations seeking firms to oversee and manage the projects. Gimenez took the extraordinary step last month of canceling the bids that been advertised after several commissioners complained that they had not had a say in the matter.
Underscoring the political weight of the large solicitations, commissioners on Tuesday continued questioning the administration over how many local and small businesses might be able to participate in the bids.
In the end, the board approved two amendments to the solicitations. The first, intended to dissuade selection committee members from giving an unusually high or low score to a bidder, will require the committee to throw out the highest and lowest bid scores.
The second, intended to insulate commissioners from lobbyists for the major firms that will likely vie for the contracts, will require the mayor to immediately sign the solicitations. That means the so-called cone of silence that prohibits firms from contacting elected officials regarding open bids will begin sooner — as early as this week.
Also Tuesday, the board:
• Delayed until September a Bovo-sponsored measure directing the elections department to make online absentee-ballot request forms more secure. The recommendation was proposed by a Miami-Dade grand jury in December.
• Delayed for at least another two weeks a vote on what to do with the approximately $2 million left over from the Miami Dolphins’ proposed referendum on public funding for stadium renovations. Commissioners and the mayor have conflicting proposals for the money unspent from the Dolphins’ nearly $4.8 million payment to cover costs for the election before it was canceled.
• Approved a request from the transit department to pay nearly $240,000 to MDI/The Start Group, a company hired to train employees between 2010 and 2011. The contract was supposed to be covered by a federal grant. But because the department did not follow proper rules to select and hire the firm — for example, it did not allow for competitive bidding — the expense was not eligible for reimbursement.
The problem was detected after new safeguards were put into place when the department came under review by the Federal Transit Administration. Police investigated and concluded no employees received improper benefits but rather that procurement rules were not followed, Director Ysela Llort told commissioners.
“This one is a confluence of a ton of errors,” she said. “We were out of compliance with our own regulations.’’