Gov. DeSantis signs "controversial" GRU control bill
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday signed a measure that will overhaul Gainesville Regional Utilities. The utility bill (HB 1645) will create the Gainesville Regional Utilities Authority to replace the longstanding agency.
While the authority will be a unit of Gainesville city government, the City Commission will not control or direct it. The governor will appoint the authority’s board members. Also, the bill, sponsored by Rep. Chuck Clemons, R-Newberry, will limit transferring money from the utility to the city.
During this year’s legislative session, Republican lawmakers repeatedly questioned transfers of money from municipal utilities to bolster city budgets, in part because many utility customers live outside the boundaries of the cities. The House considered a bill that would have applied to municipal utilities throughout the state, but lawmakers ultimately passed the narrower measure focused on Gainesville.
Gainesville Mayor Harvey Ward in a statement said the move was a "controversial milestone," but emphasized that "the utility is still owned by the residents of the City of Gainesville."
The law will go into effect July 1.