Utility consultants to apply for job on live TV

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — The joint utility advisory committee established between Vero Beach, Indian River Shores and Indian River County will interview five consulting firms Thursday, one of which will be recommended to study the potential consolidation of the Vero and county water and wastewater systems.

The five firms being considered are Carollo Engineers, of Sarasota, GAI Consultants, of Orlando, and Post Buckley Shuh and Jernigan, of Tampa, Keith & Schnars of Fort Lauderdale and Wade Trim of Tampa.Each prospective company will be given 30 minutes to present, followed by 15 minutes of questions and a 15 minute break for firms to break down and set up their computers and displays. The presentations and interviews will be held at 9 a.m. Feb. 25 in the Vero Beach City Council Chambers and televised on Channel 13. The committee will interview three applicants in the morning, break for lunch and then interview two more in the afternoon.

The commission, 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.

Members will score the consulting firms based on their experience in dealing with water and sewer issues and with situations involving mergers and acquisitions of utilities, aptitude for analyzing complex legal and financial issues, client recommendations and their ability to control costs.

At the end of the day, the committee is expected to make a recommendation, which the various members will take back to their elected boards for approval. Following that, the committee will negotiate a contract for services with the firm. Initially, elected officials estimated the study would cost in the ballpark of $75,000, which would be borne equally by Vero Beach, Indian River County and Indian River Shores.

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, meanting 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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