Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
November 19, 2020
Despite an objection from Vice Mayor Len Kreger that the situation as presented did not constitute an emergency that would justify sole source contracting, the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) approved a budget amendment at their November 17, 2020 Regular Meeting to move forward with marina fuel line repairs at a cost of $215K. Kreger was the only vote in opposition. In casting his vote, he expressed confidence that the measure would pass without his support.
When the Fiscal Year 2020/2021 budget was prepared, it was anticipated that the Northern Marina Rebuild Project would be completed in fiscal year 2019/2020. During the Marina fuel line assessment and testing, it was discovered that there was a leak in the line. Staff obtained quotes for the repair of the fuel line piping, and recommended a sole source award to Marina Utilities in the amount of $215,000. Staff believes that Marina Utilities has been an integral part of the Marina rebuild and their selection would provide a cohesive finish to the fuel system.
In voicing his opposition, Kreger said that the City has known about the fuel line problems for 4 months, ample time to engineer and bid the project. Therefore, he did not deem the situation an emergency that would permit sole source contracting.
Commissioner Chip Ross disagreed. “It’s an emergency,” Ross said, “in the sense that [sale of] fuel is essential to our marina. I’ve looked at the bid. Marina Utilities has done this work before, and putting the project out to bid will take months and months and months. I think we need to move forward.”
Commissioner Mike Lednovich said, “How long do we delay selling gas? That’s why it’s an emergency, because we’re losing revenue. … By acting quickly to repair the lines, we then receive the revenue. If we go through a laborious bid process, we lose those funds.”
Kreger was not convinced, citing a need for good project management and improved City purchasing policies and procedures. “I’m going to vote no, and the project will [be approved]. But I think everyone recognizes that we have problems here.”
In response to a question from Commissioner Phil Chapman, City Manager Dale Martin affirmed that DEP has advised of environmental problems associated with the fuel leak.
Chapman said, “I don’t think loss of revenue is the emergency. However, if those pipes fail, we are in for big bucks [in environmental contamination clean up].”
City Attorney Tammi Bach added that the City has now received two notices from DEP demanding that the City address the fuel line problem. She said that DEP was pleased to learn that the FBCC would be addressing the matter in the November 17 meeting.
Ross moved to approve the Resolution and Lednovich seconded his motion, which passed with only Kreger dissenting. Resolution 2019-81 approved the issuance of a Series 2019 Note in the principal amount of not to exceed $3,000,000 to fund capital improvements including certain improvements to the city owned marina. The Series 2019 Note has a sufficient amount available to fund this part of the Marina project.