The contract/agreement between the Shores and Port Orange requires binding arbitration to settle disputes. I met Mr. Booker for the first time in February of this year. We talked about the dispute between the parties.
To avoid the expense of binding arbitration I asked Mr. Booker if the Shores would consider non binding mediation as a way to settle the issue. He was agreeable to the idea and said he would request his City Council’s direction. He did and I then received authorization on March 19th from the Port Orange City Council to try to resolve this issue through mediation. It took several months for the parties to agree to a mediator. The Port Orange City Council agreed to the mediator on June 19th.
I can not speak for Mr. Booker but my intention for recommending mediation was to reduce the cost and to create a process that would hopefully resolve this issue between the parties.
Cindy, thank you for your attempt to answer my question but I do not think it addresses the issue I am exploring.
A question for Mr. Kisela
As I understand it, sometime before the city council voted to go to non-binding arbitration, there had been an agreement between the city of Daytona Beach Shores and the City of Port Orange, that if there were a dispute between the two cities which they could not resolve, the matter would go to arbitration.
Perhaps my interpretation of what Mr. Booker had told me about mandatory arbitration is incorrect, either my fault or Mr. Booker’s.
I was questioning Mr. Booker at the time of my interest, as to why the city of Daytona Beach Shores was going to arbitration when it was clear to me that Daytona Beach Shores had paid the bill presented to it by the city of Port Orange, and it seemed to me that Daytona Beach Shores had a win and shut closed case and had no need to go to any arbitration about the matter. But Mr. Booker I thought was explaining to me that because of a previous agreement between the two cities, Daytona Beach Shores had to go to arbitration.
So I am trying to clear up two issues that are bothering me.
- Did this arbitration agreement come up only when Daytona Beach Shores saw that the city of Port Orange was going to go to court to recoup the money which Port Orange believes is owed by Daytona Beach Shores?
- Which city insisted that the arbitration being closed to the public? I am bothered by the notion that Daytona Beach Shores does not want arbitration to be open to the public , because the city of Daytona Beach Shores might like to hide the true amount of water services billed and paid to Port Orange, which may be less than what the Daytona Beach Shores customers were paying to the city of Daytona Beach Shores.
- I had been engaging in a series of e mail questions to Mr. Booker about this issue, when Mr. Booker broke off replies to me saying that he would say no more on this matter, because answers about the true billing rates charged to Daytona Beach Shores were known by the city of Port Orange, and he would not answer any more of my questions.
- So I give anyone the opportunity to put my suspicions to rest. Did an agreement to go to arbitration come up only when the billing rates issues came up?
- Let me go one step further in explaining my concern about this whole issue of arbitration. Is it possible that Daytona Beach Shores wants arbitration specifics hidden from the public because it does not want it to be known that the city of Daytona Beach Shores was charging its citizens more for water service than the city of Port Orange was billing for?
- Before someone challenges all my negative speculations and suspicions, let me point out that I as a citizen do not feel that I have to be on the defensive when two city governmental agencies agree to withhold arbitration specifics about a dispute over a significant sum of money which tax payers ultimately pay for.
- When two city agencies enter into arbitration which is not made public, they are liable to suffer the mistrust of its tax payers, and deserve such mistrust.
- I do not care that the city council of Port Orange voted one way or another about this binding or non-binding arbitration. The city council of Port Orange is not on the citizens’ team but is playing ball with other interests. This has been made evident by negating proposition 11, the Lacour Riverfront Park adventure, and now the thoughts of building a football stadium.
If I can be any more explicit or open about my thoughts, let me know. It would be nice to get some real answers about the issues I bring up. Transparency is not alive and well in Port Orange. Prove me wrong.
From: Rivera, Cynthia [mailto:CRivera@port-orange.org]
Sent: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 2:33 PM
To: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Mediation / Arbitration
I hope this answers your questions.
MARCH 19, 2013 City Council Meeting Minutes
–Ted Noftall asked for the report on the meters that was requested two weeks ago. He asked if Mr. Kisela and the Daytona Beach Shores City Manager are holding mediations. Mr. Kisela advised that he is going to ask Council tonight for authorization to enter into non-binding mediation.
–Ms. Roberts advised that selection of a mediator will be needed if the Council agrees to non-binding mediation. Consensus of Council is to move forward with non-binding mediation.
June 18, 2013 City Council Meeting Minutes
CITY ATTORNEY (Margaret Roberts)
15. Daytona Beach Shores Utility Service Billing Dispute and Mediation
Ms. Roberts advised this is a request for a mediator in the Daytona Beach Shores Utility Service billing dispute.
Councilman Ford does not agree with $575.00 per hour. He believes it is excessive. Ms. Roberts explained the mediator’s experience and expertise.
Vice Mayor Burnette asked if this was a typical rate. Ms. Roberts said it is a little high but he is highly qualified and both parties have agreed on him.
Mr. Kisela explained it has taken months to agree on a mediator. He advised the mediation needs to happen quickly.
Councilman Bastian understands the need for a good mediator but $575/hour is excessive.
Motion to approve the use of John J. Upchurch, Esquire as the mediator in the dispute with the Daytona Beach Shores regarding the utility service billing dispute was by Vice Mayor Burnette, and Seconded by Councilman Kennedy.
Mr. Noftall asked if there is a budget for this mediation and how many pre-hours. Mayor Green said there is no budget for this item. Ms. Roberts advised it would be less than a day to prepare for the mediation. She advised that the proposed settlement will come back to the City Council for consideration.
Motion carried 4-1 by roll call vote. Councilman Ford voted no.
Executive Assistant to the City Manager