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County wants meeting with Vero Beach, Indian River Shores councils

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – The Indian River County Board of Commissioners want another meeting with the Vero Beach City and Indian River Shores Town councils in June to discuss the future of their joint water and sewer utility study.

“I just think maybe we all need to get together again to make the decisions and say ‘where do we want to go with this?'” Commissioner Gary Wheeler said Tuesday.

The three government bodies met last fall to form a 6-member joint utility advisory committee that would hire a consultant to study the potential for merging the City of Vero Beach and the county’s water and sewer systems. Both the county and the Town of Indian River Shores have agreements with Vero Beach to provide water and sewer service to the barrier island.

Wheeler’s request to reconvene the three-government meeting received unanimous support from his fellow commissioners.

Wheeler said that he believes the governments could meet and “find out where the rub is” for cheaper than what the consultant wants to charge.

“Somehow we got off track,” Commissioner Bob Solari said.

The 6-member advisory committee, with a vote of 4-2, approved GAI Consultant’s proposal to interview all 15 members of the three governing boards to determine the political will of moving forward.

The consultant wants nearly $40,000 to conduct the interviews and review the agreements between the three parties.

The county’s two representatives on the joint utility advisory committee – Utilities Director Erik Olson and Budget Director Jason Brown – had voted against GAI’s proposal.

“We’ve often overturned committees if we thought they were going down the wrong track,” Solari said.

Commissioner Wesley Davis said that while the Board of County Commissioners might believe there is a consensus among the three governments to proceed with the study and possible merge, two-thirds of their committee apparently does not believe that to be the case.

“We are not alone in this,” he said.

Wheeler said he would like to see a meeting scheduled sometime the first week of June, perhaps that Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. The commissioners suggested that the meeting be held in a conference room at the county administration complex instead of at the Richardson Center, where the original meeting was held.

The joint utility advisory committee is scheduled to meet again on May 17 at 9 a.m. Olson told commissioners that the meeting might address some of their concerns pertaining to GAI’s proposed scope of work.

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