Keep local control of our utility!
This petition had 331 supporters
We call on our state legislature to oppose Representative Chuck Clemons' and Senator Keith Perry's bills (HB 759 & SB 1568), which seek to remove authority over Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) from the City of Gainesville and place it in the hands of unaccountable political appointees.
We assert that GRU is owned by the City of Gainesville, Florida. When we do not agree with the policies and programs of our utility, we will seek change through GRU's Board of Directors, our elected City Commission and the Utility Advisory Board. Where changes are needed, those changes should be decided upon by our community.
We support ongoing local conversations regarding GRU governance. We do not, however, need or want the intrusion of Tallahassee politicians in governing our local utility.
For the fourth year in a row, Senator Keith Perry (and now Representative Chuck Clemons) have chosen to represent the demands of the Chamber of Commerce over their own constituents. Despite ongoing and repeated public outcry, they are attempting to force a ballot initiative that would replace our locally-controlled governance of GRU with political appointees who have no accountability to the public, GRU customers, nor any regulatory authority.
These appointees would be empowered to exercise the power of eminent domain, issue revenue bonds, dispose of utility system assets, and even write their own rules and code of business conduct. Further, they would have the authority to substantially reduce the amount of GRU's annual transfer to the City's General Fund, thereby holding our City hostage to an unelected, unaccountable Authority. Yet members of the Authority could not be recalled by the customers of the utility nor by the citizens of our community. This bill opens the door to the privatization of our publicly-owned utility and has been opposed by the Gainesville City Commission, the Alachua County Commission, Representative Clovis Watson, and the Florida Municipal Electric Association. It also runs counter to the recommendations made to our City by the Navigant Report.
We recognize that GRU is not a perfect utility. But it is our utility, owned by the City of Gainesville and directed by our elected City Commissioners and the Utility Advisory Board. We vehemently oppose these intrusions by the Chamber of Commerce, Senator Keith Perry, Representative Chuck Clemons, and other Tallahassee politicians into the local decisions of our community. One look at the ineffectual oversight they are providing the state's privately-owned utilities confirms this assertion. Where changes are needed in our utility, we will take responsibility for those changes locally, through citizen engagement and election of City Commissioners who best reflect our values.
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