Meeting yields no action from Utilities, Finance committees

By Debbie Carson, Online Editor


VERO BEACH — The Vero Beach City Council will have to decide for itself whether or not to approve two measures that would give them financial flexibility to take out loans to pay for any shortfalls in the utility budget. A 90-minute joint meeting of the Utilities and Finance commissions Tuesday morning to provide guidance on the issue resulted in a unanimous vote to take “no action.” The city council is expected to take up the matter at a future council meeting.Councilwoman Debra Fromang and others on the council had asked the committees to review the resolutions and to provide clear recommendations to the council. City Finance Director Steve Maillet was seeking the approval to allow the city to cover any budget gaps for funds the city has already spent on capital projects.”I didn’t understand it,” Fromang said of the resolutions after the committee meeting. She added that in her four years on the Council, she had not seen this kind of proposal.She wasn’t the only one. Numerous times during the joint meeting, members of the two commissions expressed confusion over not only the resolutions, but also why they had been tapped to review them.Maillet presented the resolutions as commonplace to allow the city to cover costs for capital projects including construction jobs and other such improvements.He told the committees that even if they were to recommend approval of the resolutions to the council and that the council in turn approved them, he would do his best not to borrow money.He explained that the funds remaining in the utilities’ budget are running low. Should the money get too tight for  the city to do what it needs to with regards to utilities, it could use loans to replenish the funds, he added.”We had cash,” Maillet said. “But it’s all been sucked away.”He said that the city has been using up the money that was in the electric system because of the increased cost to buy the electricity from the city’s current supplier.”It’s kind of a race to the end of the year, the calendar year, to see if there’ll be any money left,” Maillet said.

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