Power Lines

The Village Attorney's budget proposal includes a line item to deal with any legal issues that come up as the Council explores burying the Key's power lines and other utilities.

Tonight local leaders will consider a $100,000 contract with Raftelis for a utility undergrounding special assessment methodology study.

On a related note, Council member Brett Moss is scheduled to update his colleagues on Underground Utility Task Force meetings. Moss is the Council liaison to the task force.

Tonight's meeting is at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers. It is open to the public and airs live on government TV stations and keybiscayne.fl.gov

Local leaders had deferred a vote on the study June 5 because they wanted more time to review information provided by the Underground Utilities Task Force, which recommended working with Raftelis.

Former Vice Mayor Michael Davey, the chair of the Underground Utilities Task Force and a candidate for Mayor, said his board reviewed two companies for the study, which will provide guidance on how the Village can equitably divide the cost of the estimated $30 million project.

“We came to the conclusion, and it was a close vote, frankly, that Raftelis was the best choice,” Davey said. “He was presented to us as the guru – the guy who created the formulas for these special assessments.”

He said Raftelis did have the higher bid – just under $100,000 compared to around $75,000 for the other firm – but the company did agree to a reduction from a higher fee and the task force felt its expertise would serve the community well on the complex project.

Moss said he agrees with the task force’s recommendation, noting determining how to pay for undergrounding utilities is one of the most important decisions involved in the huge undertaking.

Moss noted some properties will benefit from buried utilities more than others; and if the cost was covered by general funds, some residents will pay a much higher share based on who has a longtime Homestead Exemption and who does not. Therefore, he said, Raftelis needs to look at all the properties in the Village, determine differences between properties and come up with a mathematical methodology that will hold up in court.

He said the firm will also help with public relations.