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Gainesville voters to decide who will control GRU

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Gainesville commissioners are asking you to vote to keep Gainesville Regional Utilities under their control this November, but a pair of state lawmakers say they think it's better if experts in the field are put in charge.

Gainesville voters will decide in November who will control GRU.

Currently, that power is in the hands of the Gainesville City Commission and they say it’s in the voters best interest to keep it that way.

“Essentially what this referendum would do is take away the utility from the citizens who own it and put it in an independent authority that would not have that direct accountability to the citizens and owners of GRU,” said Gainesville mayor Lauren Poe.

Senator Keith Perry and representative Chuck Clemons proposed this referendum because they say the commissioners mean well, but they are not experts in all aspects of GRU.

“Our bill simply looked at an independent board that wouldn’t be as political as it’s been now and have somebody with background and skills,” Perry said. “Have someone from the county, 35 percent of the users are in the county.”

If it passes, they say the city commission won't be left out. They say the commission will still appoint members to the GRU board.

Mayor Lauren Poe says it’s important the commission retains control since they're directly voted onto the commission by the people - and not appointed

“Every year we have elections and so if people are dissatisfied then they have a chance to voice that dissatisfaction at the ballot box and that would no longer be the case if an independent authority were to take over,” Poe said.

Ultimately, it is you who gets to voice your opinion come November.

“They get the opportunity to decide,” Perry said. “Not Tallahassee, not the city commission, not other groups. It’s the individual voter now gets to decide which direction they want to go.”

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