Meeting with FP&L could be Vero Beach officials only

VERO BEACH – Five Vero Beach officials plan to sit down with senior levels of management at Florida Power and Light’s headquarters tomorrow. But whether any one else will be in attendance remains unclear.

There had been discussion last week amongst other elected officials that Commission Chairman Peter O’Bryan and Indian River Shores Mayor Bill Kenyon might be in attendance, as observers. However, the Vero Beach City Council Tuesday instructed City Manager Jim Gabbard that only the five officials should be allowed at the meeting.

“I would prefer, because this is about the City of Vero Beach’s utility system that (the five officials) would be the only ones at this meeting,” Councilman Ken Daige said, bringing the matter up.

When reached Wednesday about the Vero Beach council’s discussion, Commission Chairman O’Bryan said he wanted to reach out to Mayor Kevin Sawnick directly before commenting on his plans for Thursday.

O’Bryan said he had talked with Mayor Sawnick Friday about attending and the mayor told him that so long as it was OK with Florida Power and Light’s people, it would be OK for the commissioner to observe.

O’Bryan said he then contacted FP&L officials, who told him that it was OK with them so long as it was OK with the City of Vero Beach.

Daige said at the Vero Beach council meeting that if there were to be any changes to the list of people attending the meeting, the city should not attend. He directed City Manager Gabbard to notify the council if the plan were to change.

Those from Vero Beach who are expected to attend are Mayor Sawnick, City Manager Gabbard, City Attorney Charlie Vitunac, Acting Electric Utilities Director John Lee, and Finance Director Stephen Maillet.

Indian River Shores Mayor Bill Kenyon expressed disappointment in the Vero Beach council’s discussion while attending the regular Mayors Meeting Tuesday afternoon.

“I understand you don’t want us there,” Kenyon said to Mayor Sawnick during the meeting. The mayors did not discuss further the FP&L meeting.

Vero Beach Councilman Brian Heady said during the council’s meeting Tuesday that he believed there to be a perception out in the community that Commission Chairman O’Bryan and Indian River Shores Mayor Kenyon had been given assurances they could attend the FP&L meeting.

“That is not the case,” Mayor Sawnick responded.

The meeting between Vero Beach and the electric provider is to serve as an information session, according to City Manager Gabbard. He told the council that FP&L officials wanted to brief the city on its analysis of the data the city previously had provided.

“This is not a negotiation,” Gabbard said of FP&L buying the city’s electric system. “We are not negotiating.”

He added that the electric company has not yet determined if it wants to pursue buying the city’s utility. FP&L has told Gabbard that it would give the city notice once it decides – either way.

Gabbard said the company did not provide a timetable for making that decision.

The city officials plan to meet with FP&L at 9 a.m. Thursday in Juno Beach. The meeting is expected to last a couple hours.

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