INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – Without discussion, the Board of County Commissioners approved a proposed deal with the City of Fellsmere to pay for maintaining the city’s fire hydrants, which the county’s Fire Rescue uses.
It is the same deal the county and city approved in 2010, pending the outcome of a court decision based on a lawsuit from 2009.
The City of Fellsmere contends that, as the end use of the hydrants, Indian River County Fire Rescue – if not the county itself – should have to pay for the upkeep and maintenance.
The County, however, argues that because Fellsmere operates its own water utility, the city should be on the hook.
In 2009, the county paid a portion of the bill the city sent. Fellsmere then argued before a special magistrate that the county failed to pay the entire bill. The county appealed the magistrate’s ruling that the county should pay up.
The matter still sits in court awaiting a decision.
In the meantime, the City of Fellsmere invoiced Indian River County for about $25,500 for the 2010 Fire Protection charge. The county agreed to pay “under protest” rather than fight the same issue in court before the first could be resolved.
Because the 2009 issue has yet to be resolved and the City of Fellsmere has invoiced the county for 2011, County Attorney Alan Polackwich has worked with Fellsmere City Attorney Warren Dill and staff to reach a similar agreement.
If approved by the Fellsmere City Council, the county will again pay the city more than $25,000 “under protest” pending the court’s decision.
If the appellate court agrees with the county, Fellsmere will be required to refund the county’s money. If not, Fellsmere will have no obligation to return the county’s money, according to the pending deal.