Recently Indian River Shores and Florida Power and Light asked Vero’s City Council to sell the Indian River Shore’s portion of Vero Electric to Florida Power and Light for $30 million. Vero’s utility experts and legal team advised that a sales price of $47 million would be required so that the sale did not have a negative impact on the remaining ratepayers. I was one of three City Council members who voted to counter with a $47 million offer to FPL. In view of the comprehensive advice of our experts, we felt it was our fiduciary duty to vote against any lower offer.
Recently it has come to light in public documents that together Indian River Shores and Florida Power and Light have presently raised about $120,000 to fund three candidates for the Vero City Council who have promised to support the sale to FPL for $30 million. Newspaper ads have shown Lang Sykes, Laura Moss, and Norman Welles supporting the sale, declaring it was a windfall, and that the proceeds could help the City in various ways. The $120,000 raised in their behalf (of which Florida Power and Light contributed $40,000) far exceeds any amount previously raised in a City of Vero Beach election, and is multiple of the amount raised by other candidates.
The candidates being funded by the Shores and FPL have tried to justify their support of the sale with arguments that are not factually correct. First, if sold at $47 million or less, the total amount of the proceeds would need to remain in the utility to maintain the present rate structure, second, sale proceeds cannot be used to defray city costs or be returned to taxpayers as those funds must be used to benefit all ratepayers, 60% of which are outside the city, third, a sale at $30 million is $17 million or 34% below the utility’s obligations going forward and would require raising rates paid by the remaining ratepayers by that amount, and fourth, a partial sale would make an already difficult sale virtually impossible.
I believe this blatant effort by outsiders to buy our election is wrong. Tony Young, Sharon Gorry and I have pledged to put the interests of the City residents first. When voting in this election, please carefully consider your choices.
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