Vero council pitches $47M counteroffer

VERO BEACH — After more than three hours of presentations, public comment and discussion, the city council voted 3-2 to send Florida Power & Light a $47 million counteroffer, saying Vero would sell the 3,000 Indian River Shores electric customers at that price.

FPL had offered $30 million two weeks ago, a proposal that was approved 5-0 by the city’s Utilities Commission last week. Councilwoman Pilar Turner and Councilman Harry Howle were in favor of accepting the $30 million, but a motion to that effect was subverted before it got to a vote of the five.

Mayor Jay Kramer offered an amendment that the city would accept the terms of the sale with a $47 million price tag – that number matching what Vero’s team of experts told them would “make whole” the balance of the 34,000 customers on the system.

Kramer suggested the Shores residents could kick in the $17 million difference. “The Shores needs to put its money where its mouth is,”Kramer said, with several Shores officials in the chamber, including Mayor Brian Barefoot and Vice Mayor Jerry Weick, who had both spoken urging Kramer to join Turner and Howle in supporting the sale.

Kramer, who is challenging Commissioner Bob Solari for his county commission seat, was seen as the sole, possibly gettable swing vote.

Vice Mayor Randy Old and Councilman Dick Winger have not wavered from their stance against the partial sale of the system in off-loading the Shores customers for one dime less than the $47 million price.

FPL Vice President of External Affairs and Business Development Pamela Rauch rose to the public podium after the contentious vote and said, “Our offer was final. It does expire on Aug. 25. If you choose not to accept it, we do wish you the best of luck.”

The council will resume to consider the rest of its agenda after a short lunch break.

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