Last year, the Florida Legislature passed a bill, pushed by special interests, which seeks to take governance of our publicly-owned utility away from the City of Gainesville and to create an unaccountable governing board.
Under this new â€œAuthority,â€ GRU would operate like a private corporation, completely insulated from city residents and our representatives.Â It would have absolute control over all GRU finances and management â€“ it could sell off public assets, reduce the transfer of profits to Gainesvilleâ€™s General Fund (thereby forcing property tax increases or reduction of services), or decide environmental, labor and social equity issues are no longer of concern.
As a publicly-owned utility, GRU currently answers to the City Commission and its citizens. Residents of the City and Alachua County have consistently supported sustainability measures: recycling, water conservation, energy conservation and solar power.Â Over the long-term, GRU has responded to all of these issues, often being first in the State, or even the Country, to implement innovative programs designed to reduce water and energy use, promote the use of solar energy, ensure fair labor practices, and provide payment assistance for struggling families.Â These programs, while sometimes increasing rates in the short term, have led to lower bills for many residents who have been able to reduce their power and/or water use. Of course, there is much more we need to do to lower utility bills, especially for lower-income households.
But any future environmental and/or social justice initiatives could easily disappear under an independent governing board. Instead, the drive would be to lower rates for large commercial interests so that the development community could entice more businesses to our area. We believe the end goal is privatization of our utility and appropriation of its profits, and passage of this referendum will pave the way a corporate take-over of our public asset.
Â Gainesville voters have the chance to defeat this takeover
by voting NO on Local Resolution 1 in November 2018
The Suwannee St. Johns Sierra Club has taken a position against this Referendum. We are not alone: League of Women Voters of Alachua County, NAACP Alachua County Branch, Gainesville Citizens for Active Transportation, and Alachua County Labor Coalition have all come out against it.Â YOU CAN HELP BY:
Â Writing a letter to the Gainesville Sun: A simple 150-word statement can have a huge impact with our neighbors and friends. Submit to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alerting and educating other organizations that you are involved with: Â contact Susan Bottcher if you would like a presentation for your group – 352-281-2877 or email@example.com
Contributing to the campaign so we can better educate the public, do mailings, buy yard signs, etc.Â Any contribution is greatly appreciated! Please make checks to: Fair Florida, P.O. BoxÂ 357481, Gainesville FL 32635 or submit online at website below.