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High bid wins Citrus County, FL five year operating contract 

From a story originally reported by Catherine Shoichet
September 16, 2005

After two years of employing Severn Trent Services to operate Citrus County's water system the Florida Governmental Utility Authority has chosen a joint venture of US Water and Wade Trim to manage its 26 systems and for Florida counties.  

Wade Trim-US Water proposed a 5-year budget of $15.3 million more than the current operator, Severn Trent.  

Optech (wholly owned subsidiary of Southwest Water) proposed $48.7 million for its five year budget; Severn Trent proposed $50.8-million; while Wade-Trim/ US Water proposed $66.2-million.

His company's proposed five-year budget was $48.7-million. Severn Trent proposed $50.8-million. And Wade-Trim and U.S. Water proposed $66.2-million.

Southwest Water/OPTECH, withdrew from the process after being ranked last. Optech president, Robert Monette, sent an e-mail criticizing the selection process, saying FGUA officials had "chosen to ignore the most responsible pricing for this contract."

Joseph Graziose, Severn Trent's vice president of services, said he was not happy that FGUA had ranked his company second out of the three proposals submitted. Graziose questioned how the FGUA could accept a proposal that requires $15.3 million more than his company offered.  

FGUA systems manager, Robert Sheets, said the budget proposals made up just 30 percent of the factors committee members considered. More important, he said, were proposals for business management and technical and customer services issues. He emphasized that rates will not increase when the systems management changes.

County Administrator Richard Wesch, who will help negotiate the new FGUA systems management contract, said he was worried customers' costs would increase under the plan Wade Trim and U.S. Water originally proposed.

Wesch and other FGUA negotiators will have 10 days to hammer out a contract with Wade Trim and US Water. If they can't reach an agreement, FGUA will negotiate a new contract with Severn Trent.

In Citrus County, FGUA services about 11,300 water customers and 5,215 wastewater customers on 11 different systems.

For more information contact Catherine E. Shoichet at cshoichet@sptimes.com