ISLAMORADA -- Outgoing village attorney Nina Boniske says the village was on the right side of the law when it didn't put the engineering watchdog work for its sewer contract out for bid last year.
But she acknowledged that not all legal minds agree.
Ultimately, the council unanimously awarded the estimated $9.5 million job to Wade Trim as a no-bid addition to a continuing contract. Florida statute states that continuing contracts for professional services, like engineering, must not exceed $2 million.
At an Oct. 9 Village Council workshop, Boniske acknowledged that various state attorneys' offices around Florida, as well as the Florida attorney general's office, have issued opinions binding cities to the dollar limit. But she noted her Weiss Serota law firm and others believe an adjacent clause in the statute grants exceptions to the limit as long as the continuing contract has a fixed term or a termination clause.
In 2010, she sought clarification from then-State Attorney Dennis Ward, who, she said, determined the village was handling continuing services contracts properly.
Wade Trim was one of several firms the village qualified as a potential engineer for the sewer project as part of a 2008 procurement process. The village awarded the firm a $40,000 contract in 2010 to rank the qualifications of firms that were interested in building, operating and financing the village-wide sewer system.
It is under an extension of that small contract that Wade Trim is now doing the $9.5 million oversight project.