UPDATE – Utility committee selects GAI as consultant

VERO BEACH — The joint utility advisory committee established between Vero Beach, Indian River Shores and Indian River County has made its selection after spending several hours interviewing five consulting firms.

The committee unanimously ranked GAI Consultants, of Orlando, first, with Post Buckley Shuh and Jernigan, of Tampa, close behind.

The committee is expected to go back to its respective council or board to present the ranking list and recommend moving forward with negotiations. Committee Chairman Tom Cadden, former mayor of Indian River Shores, said that he was concerned when they received just five applications for the job. However, he was impressed with each of the presentations.

GAI Consultants, the first to make its presentation, has had successful projects in Ocala and Royal Palm Beach and various counties including Broward, St. Lucie, Dade and Marion.

Representatives told the committee that, if hired, they would have two people stationed locally to work with the stakeholders – each of the local governments. The team would include an attorney, an appraiser, and a grant specialist.

The Board of County Commissioners is expected to consider the ranked list at the March 9 meeting, while the Vero Beach City Council is set to take it up on March 16. The Town of Indian River Shores will call a special meeting to consider the list sometime on or before March 16.

The utility committee is expected to meet on Thursday, March 18, to report back what their respective government boards had to say about the rankings.

The other applicants include Carollo Engineers, of Sarasota, and Wade Trim, of Tampa, both of which tied for third place, and Keith & Schnars of Fort Lauderdale. The committee eventually ranked Carollo Engineers higher than Wade Trim to break the tie.

The committee, which was formed during an Oct. 15 meeting with officials from all involved elected bodies, consists of two members from the City of Vero Beach, two members from Indian River County and two members from Indian River Shores.

Representing the City of Vero Beach are Water and Sewer Utilities Director Rob Bolton and Public Works Director Monte Falls. Representing the Board of County Commissioners are Utility Director Erik Olson and Budget Director Jason Brown. Indian River Shores’ former Mayor Tom Cadden and building official Richard Jefferson represent the town.

Currently, the Indian River Shores and the Board of County Commissioners have 30-year franchise agreements with the City of Vero Beach for water, wastewater and irrigation water service, expiring in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

Each contract has a five-year notification clause, meaning the Town of Indian River Shores must notify the City as to its intentions about renewing the franchise by October 2011. The County must convey its intentions by March 2012. The commission was given a goal of devising a Request for Qualifications for a consultant to study the options for the utility systems, hiring a consultant and coming back to the various boards with a recommendation or recommendations by early summer 2010.

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