By Lisa ZahnerINDIAN RIVER COUNTY — The County Untilities Advisory Committee takes up the issue this afternoon of whether or not to renew its contract with the City of Vero Beach Utilities for water and sewer service for County residents.The 1987 contract expires in March 2017 and the County would have to give the City of Vero Beach five years’ notice that they want to disconnect County residents from water and sewer service. In February, the committee unanimously passed a motion recommending that the Board of County Commissioners authorize staff to study and coordinate the County’s possible takeover of service to the 4,331 County residents served by the City’s water and sewer lines. Initial estimates in the minutes of that February meeting cite that a merger of these customers into the County system could cost about $50 million. The Utilities Advisory Committee will be looking into whether the County would need to expand the current capacity of its wastewater treatment infrastructure to accomodate the new customers.The committee and staff will also discuss the feasibility of working with the Town of Indian River Shores to propose having it not renew its water and sewer contract with the City so the County could bid to take over the Shores’ 1,912 water customers and 1,727 sewer customers when the Indian River Shores contract with the City expires in October 2016. That would require notice to the City by Oct. 26, 2011.City of Vero Beach Utilities customers are facing possible 7.5 percent increases to water rates and 29.5 percent increases to sewer rates in October 2009, with sizeable rate increases each year for the next five years. Members of the UAC, espcially District 5 appointee Dr. Stephen Faherty, have expressed concern that the City of Vero Beach is annually using millions of dollars paid into the utility by County residents to subsidize the City’s general fund.The UAC meets at 2 p.m. in Conference Room B1-501 of the County Administration Building.