Vero Beach council to consider getting electric system appraised

VERO BEACH – The Vero Beach City Council is expected to discuss having an appraisal done on the city’s electric utility ahead of discussions with Florida Power and Light regarding the system’s potential sale to the electric provider.

Mayor Kevin Sawnick told his fellow council members during a recent meeting that he was going to put the matter on the next council agenda, which is planned for May 4.

He said that he has heard from many members of the public that regardless of whether or not they want to sell the electric plant, the city should know what it’s worth.

“We’ll have to figure out how it’ll work and what the cost could be” to have the system appraised, Mayor Sawnick said.

If Florida Power and Light were to offer to buy the city’s power plant, the mayor said the city needs to know if it is a fair offer.

“We’ve got to make sure we get what it’s worth,” Mayor Sawnick said, in the event the city decides to sell.

City officials had expected to sit down with members of Florida Power and Light before the end of April to discuss the electric system. To date, that meeting has not been held.

Mayor Sawnick said the council will need to decide if they should task city staff to appraise the electric system or hire an outside consultant to do the work.

“We need to figure out some plan,” he said.

Councilman Brian Heady, later in the meeting, relayed to the council comments City Manager Jim Gabbard made to the Board of County Commissioners pertaining to the system’s value.

During a commission meeting, Gabbard said the system’s assets were valued between $200 million and $300 million and $100 million’s worth of underground utility lines.

Heady said he had asked Gabbard for any documents regarding the valuation of the system and Gabbard said there weren’t any.

Gabbard told the council that the numbers came from then-Electric Utility Director R.B. Sloan stemming from discussions with staff and consultants.

He called the numbers a “pretty fair description” of the assets’ value at the time, based on Sloan’s knowledge of the system, replacement costs and other items.

It’s “not something we pulled out of the air,” Gabbard said.

Heady reiterated that there were no supporting documents available regarding the system’s value, which Mayor Sawnick said was the reason he believes the city should pursue an appraisal.

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