County to receive water utility consultants’ bids by New Year’s Eve

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — The joint group representing three local governments in their quest to find a water utility consultant are on track to receive responses by New Year’s Eve.

Nearly 100 firms have downloaded the Indian River County Purchasing Department’s request for qualifications, according to County Utilities Director Erik Olson. That department expects to receive all the interested firms’ resumes by Dec. 31.  

“It’s hard to say” how many of the 98 companies will actually send in their packages, Olson said. For other consultant projects, the county typically receives between 20 and 30 responses, according to Olson.

The joint utilities commission — made up of two representatives each from the county, the City of Vero Beach and the Town of Indian River Shores — is scheduled to meet on Jan. 14, when the group is expected to decide on the criteria it will use to select the consultants.

Olson has proposed the following criteria for placing consultants on a short-list. He has not received any feedback from the other members of the committee.

Strong experience and knowledge in the operation and maintenance of utility plant and infrastructure.

Strong experience in utility water and wastewater plant and infrastructure design and construction.

Strong knowledge, experience and qualifications in utility financial business management and financial forecasting and financial analysis.

Experience and knowledge in the development of utility rates, fees and charges.

Knowledge in Florida environmental regulations related to utility management and operations.

Knowledge in Florida case law and Florida law as it pertains to utility acquisition mergers and acquisitions.

“It is my recommendation to review the respondents based on the above criteria. If a company/consultant can’t show strong experience in those areas, they should not be considered,” Olson wrote to the committee members. “I would also not be recommending companies/consultants that are out of state for their primary business.”

The criteria discussion had been planned for the group’s Dec. 10 meeting, but the meeting was canceled after one of the members could not attend. The meeting was then rescheduled for the following week, but was again canceled due to a member again not being able to attend.

When the joint commission first met, the members discussed, and later decided against, appointing alternates so that meetings could go on in the absence of a member, according to Olson.

He said Monday that he was considering bringing the issue back up at the Jan. 14 meeting.

Each of the six committee members will receive copies of all the consultants’ packages. After the Jan. 14 meeting, the members will be required to review each of the packages, evaluating them and then ranking the firms.

How many will end up the short-list has yet to be decided. Those placed on the short list will be further evaluated and might be called in for interviews before the committee makes a recommendation to their respective government body.

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