City sends contract to ESAD for sewer system purchase

At their regular session meeting on October 18, the Port St. Joe city commissioners unanimously voted to send a proposed contract to the owners of the ESAD Sewer System — a move forward in their plan to buy the system from the private owners.

The agreement involves the city’s purchase of the sewer system currently servicing the Gulf Aire area of St. Joe Beach from ESAD, with financial assistance in the sum of $500,000 from the county.

ESAD will have until October 31 to agree to the terms, a deadline set by the commissioners to place a time constraints on the project, which has recently stalled considerably over disagreements between the city and the county over contractual details and the project’s overall timeline.

“I read through the contingencies of the contract. I think they’re clear, precise, and can easily be understood,” said City Commissioner Scott Hoffman at the October 18 meeting. “There’s a lot of moving parts that the county has to accomplish, the city has to accomplish and the seller has to accomplish. If at any time the city, which is the buyer in this contract, feels that those are not met, the city will enforce a provision that we consider the contract null and void and we move away from the purchase.”

The city’s decision comes in the wake of several heated exchanges with county officials, who claimed that the city was dragging their feet on the project.

At a workshop on the topic held September 21, County Administrator Michael Hammond recommended placing deadlines on the city for finalizing their agreements with ESAD.

“We’ve kicked the can around,” he said at that workshop. “If the city says yes, fine, and if they say no, then we will go on and do our own thing, no hard feelings. But I think it’s time to move forward one way or the other.”

At the workshop, the Administrator stated that he would recommend that the county vote on the proposed deadlines at their subsequent public meeting on September 27.

In the drafted memorandum distributed at that workshop, the county would withdraw its financial contribution should the city fail to execute an agreement for the purchase of the system from ESAD by October 31 of this year or fail to have the system up and running by June 1 of next year.

The county commissioners did not, ultimately, discuss the ESAD sewer buy at the meeting, and according to Port St. Joe Attorney Clinton McCahill, the city was still waiting for a signed version of the memorandum from the county as of October 18.

City Commissioner Scott Hoffman stated that by implementing deadlines in their contract with ESAD, the city hoped that it would “put the seller in the position of having to inspire the county to do what the county has said it will do.”

The city did vote to adhere to the October 31 deadline in their agreement with ESAD, stating that both parties would need to have accepted the agreement for the purchase by that date.

However, after City Manager Jim Anderson stated his concerns about the tight deadline to ensure the system was operational before the city took control of the project, the commissioners voted to extend the closing date for the project to July 1 of next year.

The city emphasized that the county would need to have voted to sign their memorandum with Port St. Joe for the sewer purchase by the October 31 deadline in order for the agreement with ESAD to proceed.

“If we don’t enter into agreement with the county, this goes away,” said McCahill.

The Gulf County Board of County Commissioners’ Next regular session meeting is scheduled for October 27 at 9 a.m. EDT.

Should the sale go through, the city could expect to pick up about 300 customers from the ESAD system, a significant amount of revenue they hope will help them to refrain from raising sewer rates in the future.


Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.