Consultants Gobbling Up More Local Tax Money in Florida

The city of Eustis in Lake County is looking to expand Ferran Park, a picturesque lakefront gem that residents from within the city and all around the area like to use. But that expansion comes with a price tag–and a deep dive into the money being spent shows consultants are getting a large share of it.

The city has already made several improvements to Ferran Park. The latest expansion includes a relocated veterans memorial, picnic pavilions, a promenade, a vendor staging area, site lighting, site furniture, pedestrian entrance gates, trellises, a wedding pavilion and a planting area.

The overall project is important to Eustis Public Works Director Rick Gierok. “We are looking at $1.5 million,” he told Florida Daily. We need expertise.”

To get that expertise, the city is hiring $40,750 worth of consultants to help them plan this latest phase of upgrades.

“There’s design. There’s electrical designs, so there is electrical engineering involved. There’s structural engineers involved, drainage, permitting,” Gierok told Florida Daily.

Gierok said there are a lead consultant and likely three or four other consultants who will be under the services of the lead. This includes an arborist for $500 and $14,500 for consultants handling landscaping design, documents and permitting.

“We have got to make sure what we have is done correctly so that it flows together,” Gierok said. “You have to have right species that are put into where it is sustainable. We don’t want to just pick something off the internet and put it in because is that going to live well in this category of where we are putting it? These people are degreed, certified and licensed.”

Gierok calls it “having the expertise,” saying “it’s what these people do.” That’s also why $9,000 is being spent on a lighting consultant to show the city how to light the park safely, properly and in an aesthetically pleasing way. It’s been a seven-year renovation project, and the city’s signature park is the pride of Eustis, according to Public Relations Director Kristina Rosenburg.

“It’s a multi-use park,” she said. “You have the playground. It’s also an area where concerts are playing. We have a bandshell. There is a splash pad, and the city’s public pool, so there is a lot of things that are going on that cater to the entire community.”

Outside of Eustis and its park, consultants are benefiting from projects across the state. For example, this week, the Space Coast Transportation Planning Organization in Brevard County will spend $200,000 figuring out how to implement Intelligent Transportation Systems. These systems use Bluetooth sensors to monitor traffic cost less than $200,000 to implement on many highways. Orange County is spending $500,000 with consultants studying possible improvements to a trolley system they already have on International Drive, the area’s main tourist corridor. Oviedo in Seminole County spent more than $100,000 designing the parking lot for its effort at a downtown hub called Oviedo on the Park.

The funds paid for consultants for projects in these towns come from local property taxes as well as state and federal dollars–and they are all increasing every year.

 

Reach Mike Synan at Mike.Synan@floridadaily.com.

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