News of the surplus, announced Wednesday, took some city leaders by surprise, both because of the size and because it came a day before the City Commission was asked to sign off on a $45 million bond issue, The Miami Herald reported.
City Commissioner Frank Carollo said he was puzzled by the latest development.
"I'd rather have a $45 million surplus than a $45 million deficit," Carollo said. "But it's a big difference from what they told us a month ago."
"I can't wait to hear . . . the administration's explanation of how we got here," said Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones. "To me, this sends the wrong message to our city employees. How do you trust someone who tells you one thing and then switches it up?"
Miami is currently under investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for allegedly distorting its financial records ahead of the 2007 and 2009 bond issues used to finance sidewalk and street repairs.
City Budget Director Danny Alfonso explained the surplus by saying he was conservative in his original projections and that he underestimated revenues coming into the city by about $12 million.
"The thinking was that I didn't know if the state was going to ask for the money back," he said.
"In hindsight, perhaps I should have said in August that we were in better shape," Alfonso said. "It was my mistake."
City finance officials plan to put it into reserves, Alfonso said.
"The manager has indicated that we will still proceed with the bond issue because we are not where we should be in reserves," Alfonso said. "But if the tunnel loan fell apart, it's a great windfall in the sense that we would have the money."