Fellsmere could get $41,000 from county for hydrant maintenance

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — The Board of Indian River County Commissioners approved today a proposed agreement to pay the City of Fellsmere nearly $41,500 for fire hydrant maintenance performed in 2009.

The payment hinges on the city’s acceptance of the agreement, which could come as early at Thursday’s Fellsmere City Council meeting.

Earlier this month, commissioners approved paying Fellsmere what the city says it is owed this year for maintaining the fire hydrants Indian River County Fire Rescue uses. However, the county is still in arrears by nearly $13,000 over the bill from 2009 and is accruing a $30 per day fine from the city’s code enforcement along with other legal fees, which amount to $41,497.95 – as of June 30.

The county has filed an appeal with the courts to overturn Fellsmere’s case against the county. That lawsuit is still pending in the court system and could be another six to eight months before it is heard in court, according to County Attorney Alan Polackwich.

The proposed agreement, which has Fellsmere City Attorney Warren Dill’s conceptual support, would require the city to pay the county back the more than $41,000 in the event the county’s appeal is upheld.

The city, however, would not be required to pay back the partial payment the county made for fire hydrant maintenance in 2009. That payment amounted to $12,328.96 – not quite half of the city’s original bill for $25,200.

The discussion between the two attorneys raised the issue of the county’s partial payment, which Polackwich said he had not anticipated.

In crafting and reviewing the agreement, Polackwich told the commission that he spoke with staff and administrators who said the payment of $12,328.96 did not need to be refunded, that the amount reflected the work the City of Fellsmere performed.

“Fellsmere did that work,” Commissioner Bob Solari agreed, noting that they deserved that money. The issue he had with the city was the per unit cost of maintaining the hydrants, he said.

Polackwich told the council that he received feedback from Dill, who proposed a few minor changes to the agreement.

“I can live with the changes,” Polackwich said.

Commissioners unanimously approved the proposed agreement, provided that the city council makes only minor changes and those changes are agreeable to Polackwich.

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