OOCEA's Snyder to leave Dec 29 - win for Mayor Jacobs

November 15, 2011

Orlando Orange County Expressway Authority's executive director, Mike Snyder brought forward his departure date to December 29 under pressure from area mayor Teresa Jacobs. Meeting today the 5-person board of directors accepted his resignation. He'll get three months severance pay of just under $82k plus an annual pension of $70k. He turns 65 on March 7 next year and initially proposed to stay until then.

Mayor Jacobs called for Snyder's resignation October 19 along with release of a 164-page report by one of her county controllers saying the tollroad was in a precarious financial condition and being forced into toll increases because of the unravelling of short-term financing and interest rate swaps.

The Mayor, who is one of the five expressway board members said Snyder was responsible for "a billion dollars of risky derivative and variable rate debt." She accused Snyder of a concerted lobbying campaign to avoid an audit, of misrepresenting advice given against the 'innovative financing' by a leading financial adviser, as well as proposing toll increases "based on  a falsehood" about the reasons.

Nearly a billion dollars of loans to the authority some going back to 2003 after Snyder took over from Hal Worrall are variable rate with weekly resets. Dexia, the bank that guaranteed swaps to maintain the low interest rates is in deep trouble in Europe because of Greek debt. Another set of the same kind of bonds were issued in 2005.

Converting the Authority's shaky debt to solid longterm bonds would cost $270m, more than a year's toll revenues, county finance staff say.

Moody's recently drew attention to the OOCEA's financial troubles, and have downrated it, although at the time the financing was done they gave the OOCEA their top credit rating.

After Jacobs' October 19 bombshell, OOCEA board chairman Walter Ketcham initially sided with Snyder. But no one else did, and Ketcham soon went silent.

Snyder has said not a word in self-defense publicly.

On November 7 Snyder released a letter to the OOCEA board saying he was proud of his record and making no reference to any of the Mayor's harsh criticisms. He wrote that he had decided to resign because he had become as "distraction."

However he would make the date of his resignation March 7 2012  when he was 65 and entitled to full retirement benefits.

Mayor Jacobs then said she wanted Snyder out before the end of the year, with a county finance man replacing him on an interim basis.

No decision was made today on a replacement, and Snyder does appear to have got his full retirement benefits. He is on a $247k salary.


TOLLROADSnews 2011-11-14

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