By Kelli Jo Hull
For Hometown News
The Port Orange City Council declined to vote on a settlement offer from Daytona Beach Shores for 43 months of under charged sewer services they received.
Instead the council wants to meet directly with representatives of Daytona Beach Shores to discuss the issue.
The amount owed to Port Orange is in excess of $900,000. Daytona Beach Shores offered to pay 50 percent of that amount if Port Orange would reinvest it in improved water service to the community.
During the Oct. 15 meeting, Port Orange Councilman Dennis Kennedy said he had "some real concerns about settling for half the money and encumbering the other half for improvements."
This was a particular concern in light of a rumor Daytona Beach Shores may no longer utilize Port Orange water and sewer and would seek services from the City of Daytona Beach.
Councilman Drew Bastian agreed, saying he "could not support a settlement that would invest in a system that the Shores might not use."
Mayor Allen Green also expressed reservations about Daytona Beach Shores utilizing the City of Daytona's services. "The city has dumped into the river for years," Mayor Green said.
He noted Daytona Beach might not be doing that currently, but environmental concerns were worth considering to try and keep Daytona Beach Shores as a Port Orange utility customer.
Councilman Kennedy said, "Daytona has not been the environmental steward that Port Orange has been."
"The problem number one is that the error is ours," Mayor Green said, referring to the mistake made by city employees that resulted in the under billing of an energy surcharge. In light of that, he and other council members stated a 50 percent return on the dollar was reasonable, but the investment aspect of the settlement offer wasn't.
Vice Mayor Donald Burnette suggested, "Our next step is to get face to face with them" and meet personally with the Daytona Beach Shores City Council to "hammer something out."
Councilman Bob Ford expressed frustration with the lack of detailed information council members received regarding the issue. "Staff should have provided us analysis of the Shores contract. We need to be better served by staff," Councilman Ford said.
Mayor Green directed that detailed documentation of the agreement with Daytona Beach Shores and all other pertinent information be provided to the council prior to meeting with them. He concluded that "there are some deficiencies to be corrected" from a customer service standpoint.
Port Orange wants to be a good neighbor, he said.