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Florida Facilities Pool $9.5 Million Revenue Bonds Rated 'A+' By Fitch -- Fitch Financial Wire --

NEW YORK, Nov. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- The Florida Department of Management Services, Division of Facilities Management's (DFM) $9,530,000 Florida facilities pool revenue bonds, series 1996B, are rated 'A+' by Fitch Investors Service. The bonds are expected to be offered competitively on 20 hours' notice the week of Nov. 25. The bonds, optionally callable beginning Sept. 1, 2006 at 101%, will be due Sept. 9, 1998-2026; terms with mandatory sinking fund redemption may be designated for 2012-2026 maturities.

The bonds are payable on parity with $300.1 million outstanding bonds by the trust estate, which consists of revenues derived from the leasing to state agencies of a pool of office buildings under the jurisdiction of DFM. While bond payment depends on annual legislative appropriations, the pool of 55 existing facilities represents about 71% of state and agency-owned office buildings; some of the space is represented by debt-free pre-existing facilities including the capitol. The state legislature authorized the program and specifically approves each project and the bonds issued to finance the project. Central controls are strong, with the state Board of Administration approving fiscal sufficiency before issuance; court validation also occurs. DFM oversees the leasing of all office space by state agencies, whose rentals are required to be set to produce 110 times (x) debt service and operating and maintenance costs. Additionally, should an agency fail to make payments when due, the controller shall withhold the unpaid amounts from general revenues of the agency and allocate it to DFM.

The state's general obligation bonds are rated 'AA' by Fitch, reflecting rapid growth, economic broadening and diversification. The economy has been transforming from a narrow base of agriculture and seasonal tourism to one of service and trade, with substantial insurance, banking and export participation, as well as having greater year-round attraction. This has brought pressures for more infrastructure, educational facilities and other needs in a state that is now the fourth largest in the country. Yet debt remains moderate at 3.2% of personal income and financial operations balanced, although over-dependence on the sensitive sales tax creates vulnerability both to recession and to longer term slower growth in the tax base.

A revenue limit approved in 1994 and initially applicable in fiscal 1996 may also become constraining in the future. Revenues pledged to bonds are exempt from the limit.

SOURCE Fitch Financial Service
 -0- 11/26/96

/CONTACT: Ruth Corson Maynard, 212-908-0596, or Claire G. Cohen, 212-908-0552, both of Fitch/

CO: Florida Department of Management Services ST: Florida IN: UTI SU: RTG

PS -- NYTU060 -- 4368 11/26/96 11:53 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 26, 1996
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