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Keystone Council puts hold on consultant’s invoice (subscriber content)

DAN HILDEBRAN

Monitor Editor

Keystone council members delayed payment of a nearly $4,600 invoice from the water and environmental consulting firm of  Schreuder, Inc. during the council’s March meeting. The invoice exceeded the $30,000 contract amount the firm had with the city by around $4,500.

Schreuder was under contract to advise Keystone Heights on the meetings of the Clay-Putnam technical work group, and its successor the Clay-Putnam implementation work group.  Those two panels discussed solutions to dropping water levels in Keystone-area lakes.

Mayor Mary Lou Hildreth said that several of Schreuder’s ideas are the leading solutions that the St. Johns River Water Management District is considering to restore lake levels.

She pointed out that one solution water planners are now considering, pumping water from the DuPont old mind area south toward Lake Brooklyn was a Schreuder proposal.

After the council meeting, Save Our Lakes President Vivian Katz pointed out that the recently approved proposal to pump 200 million gallons of water from Lowry Lake south toward Keystone Heights is an adaptation of an earlier Schreuder idea.

During the meeting, Hildreth said the firm’s latest $4,597.10 invoice exceeded its contract with the city.

She also pointed out that when sending the invoice Schreuder acknowledged that there was only $111 left in the contract.

The mayor said she called the firm’s head, Peter Schreuder  and told him if he knew only $111 remained in the budget for his services, he should not have done the work that  created the overage.

She also acknowledged that the engineer has been an invaluable resource to the city, has contributed free travel time and other free services during his long-term engagement by the city

Hildreth added that the city’s budget and finance committee recommended that the council authorize payment of the invoice and in addition send to Schreuder a letter reminding him that funds for the work have been exhausted, and it is not to perform additional services.

Katz told the council that the work associated with  Schreuder’s  invoice resulted from a request by the Clay-Putnam implementation workgroup and therefore the St. John’s Water Management District should pay the bill.

Hildreth argued against that recommendation.  She said that Peter Schreuder always appeared before the work group as a part of his contract with Keystone Heights and that when the group asked him to reappear, it was under the assumption that his appearance would come under that contract.

Councilman Brian Wilson said the city should at least ask the water management district for assistance with the invoice since it appeared that the work originated from a request by the work group.

Councilman Tony Brown said he could not support the expenditure because it exceeded the amount of the contract.

Paul Yates told his colleagues that the question is, “how important are the lakes to us?”

”How badly do we need his services?” he continued.  “We have no technical expertise ourselves.”

Yates added that he agreed with Brown, Hildreth and Wilson.

“At the same time,” he said “we have to be practical and think of the consequences of basically forcing him to eat that bill.”

Based on a recommendation by Brown, the council agreed to table the issue and ask the water management district to pay half of the invoice.

 

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