Representatives to go back to utility consultant for clarification

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – County representatives on the joint utility committee tasked with hiring a consultant to study water and sewer service are expected to meet with the consultant soon to get clarification on what the company will be doing for $40,000.

“Maybe it’s me,” said County Utilities Director Erik Olson during a special meeting of the committee. “Maybe I’m missing something.”


Olson, and his county counterpart on the committee, Budget Director Jason Brown, have voiced concerns about the consultant’s plans to interview each of the 15 elected officials that represent the county, the City of Vero Beach, and the Town of Indian River Shores to determine the political will of moving forward with the study.

The Board of County Commissioners supports the hiring the consultant – GAI Consultants – and moving forward with a study. The members of the board, however, did not support sitting down for individual interviews with GAI.

Committee members Tom Cadden, representing Indian River Shores, and Rob Bolton, of Vero Beach, told Olson and Brown that it was their understanding that GAI would be collecting and reviewing data prior to meeting with the elected officials.

“That’s the simplest thing to do,” Cadden said of initial study – have GAI review the information and then present that the elected officials.

Olson said he did not see that as part of the first phase of work GAI is to do, but if that were the case, then he would support it.

Cadden warned Olson and Brown not to ask GAI to rewrite its proposed scope of work – only ask for clarification on what the company plans to do for the $40,000 and what information it plans to give to the elected officials.

The county representatives said they would seek only the clarification.

Instead of being interviewed by GAI officials, the Board of County Commissioners recommended that they meet again with the councils from Vero Beach and Indian River Shores to reaffirm their support of studying their respective water and sewer systems.

The study is supposed to help officials determine whether there would be any benefit in merging the county and Vero Beach’s systems or if the county should take over providing water and sewer service to Indian River Shores or the south barrier island -both of which are currently served by Vero Beach.

“I’m certainly not going to recommend they do it,” Cadden said of telling his town council to meet again with the other elected officials.

Cadden added it is not up to the joint utility advisory committee to go back to their respective elected officials to suggest they meet.

All three governments met last October to set the course for studying the systems. Whether another such meeting will happen remains to be seen.

Despite comments from committee members that the Board of County Commissioners is opposed to moving forward with GAI, Brown said the commissioners are “still on board with this.”

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