FELLSMERE – Four of the county’s five mayors met in Fellsmere to discuss what they would like to see happen for their cities, towns and for the overall county.
The consensus – more jobs, better marketing and more involvement from the Board of County Commissioners. To that end, Orchid Mayor Richard Dunlop was tasked with contacting the new Commission Chair, Bob Solari, to seek a workshop with the commission to open the lines of communication.
The mayors hope to hold the meeting sometime after the first of the year.
Dunlop said that part of the problem is the perception that Indian River County is anti-growth and development. He explained that there are longtime landowners in the county with sway who do not want to seen development.
He told his fellow mayors that they need to discuss that issue with all five of the County Commissioners.
The mayors at a prior meeting sat down with representatives from the Indian River County Chamber of Commerce to discuss what it is doing to boost the county’s economy. The Chamber is the Board of County Commissioners’ designee to handle such tasks.
“The tone of the meeting with (the Chamber) was we’re not happy with what’s happening,” Indian River Shores’ Mayor Bill Kenyon said. “We’re behind in the game.”
He explained that other counties are pumping millions of dollars into marketing and economic development while Indian River County allocates much less.
Kenyon also said that the county needs to be on the front-end of making relationships with large companies before those companies decide to relocate.
“We are absent from all of these things,” he said. “That’s not really the Chamber’s role.”
It was the first Mayors Meeting for newly elected Jay Kramer, from the City of Vero Beach. Sebastian Mayor Jim Hill was not in attendance.
The mayors also discussed what they are each doing to spark job growth and economic development.
Kramer told his fellow mayors that the City of Vero Beach is more focused on retaining and helping the current businesses than it is on attracting new.
For Vero Beach, the new council is working on resolving the utility issues that are “crushing” the residents as well as the businesses, he said.
“We’re all behind you,” Dunlop said, addressing Kramer, explaining that if Vero Beach can fix its utility rates – for electric, water and sewer – the whole county would benefit because many county government buildings are on Vero Beach’s service grids.
“The utility affects everyone,” Kramer agreed. “It deserves a lot of our attention.”