Gainesville Regional Utilities sign in Gainesville, Florida

Gainesville Will Vote on State GRU Utility Takeover

The Gainesville City Commission unanimously at its April to 6-0 to place control of the city’s municipal utilities on the ballot in 2024 after an attempted takeover from the state government.

In 2023, the Florida Legislature voted to transfer control over Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) to a new authority appointed by the Governor. The board has had notorious difficulties fielding a quorum, with a majority of appointees having resigned over residency qualification issues.

Following Wednesday’s vote Gainesville voters will be asked whether to retain the Authority, or to revert control back to the City Commission.

“This is what should have happened from the beginning,” Commissioner Brian Eastman told Florida New Signal.

“Our utilities are owned by the people of Gainesville. They’ll now have the chance to decide their future, not Tallahassee politicians and special interests,” said Eastman.

The move may be bolstered even further by new public outrage over a vote by the new DeSantis-appointed GRU Board to cancel popular solar policies designed to reduce carbon emissions and keep the public utility sustainable long-term.

The Gainesville vs. State of Florida utility saga enters its new referendum chapter at the same time as an ongoing charter privatization crisis in Alachua’s City of Newberry continues to sizzle with Rep. Chuck Clemons — who led also led the GRU privatization — asking state Education Commissioner Manny Diaz last week to intervene on a failed charter conversion vote.

Florida New Signal contributor Katy Burnett broke down Gainesville’s battle with state authorities over Home Rule authority and the future of North Central Florida in a recent episode of the Florida affairs podcast Tropical Depression.

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