Will Vero Beach participate in a utilities summit?

VERO BEACH — The Vero Beach City Council will hear from Indian River County Commission Chairman Wesley Davis at its meeting tonight beginning at 7 p.m. as the commissioner seeks to get the city to come to the table for a utilities summit next week.

The county wants Vero Beach officials to attend the meeting planned for Oct. 15, which will also have representatives from the Town of Indian River Shores and the City of Fellsmere. County officials want to sit down with the three municipalities to discuss ways to make the water utilities more efficient.

The county has been trying to bring Vero Beach to the table to discuss the possibility of merging the two governments’ water systems. City officials have said that they would prefer to wait until November to get past the city’s 90th Birthday Celebration.

“I just hope they would be able to set aside a couple hours in their busy schedule,” said County Utilities Administrator Erik Olson of the Vero Beach council.

Olson said that the meeting would focus on two franchise agreements the county has with Indian River Shores and the south Barrier Island.

Part of that discussion also would focus on the possibility of merging Vero Beach’s water utility with the county’s.

City Councilman Bill Fish, who is running for re-election, has repeatedly said, with support of the city’s water and sewer manager, that the city’s and county’s systems are not compatible and could not be merged.

The Town of Indian River Shores has been asked to the meeting in part because it is a customer of Vero Beach utilities. Its agreement with Vero Beach is up in 2016 and could decide to go with the county for its utilities.

“Everything is a question of economics,” Olson said.

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