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All members of GRU Authority board resign after lawsuit settlement from citizen group

The Gainesville Regional Utilities administration building is located at 301 SE 4th Ave. in Gainesville. (WUFT News)
The Gainesville Regional Utilities administration building is located at 301 SE 4th Ave. in Gainesville. (WUFT News)

All four members of the Gainesville Regional Utilities Authority board have submitted their resignations following a lawsuit settlement between the state and the citizen group Gainesville Residents United.

The lawsuit alleged Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office did not have the authority to appoint multiple members to the board who lived outside of the city limits, and that he did not properly advertise the availability of the appointments.

Susan Bottcher is the vice president of Gainesville Residents United. She said they are satisfied and relieved with the settlement result.

“A lot of times when people hear the word settlement, they think money. And that's not what we were going after,” Bottcher said. “What we wanted was the law to be enacted correctly, properly and with total transparency and that's what's happened.”

In the settlement, the current board members agreed to resign and Gov. DeSantis agreed to reopen applications and appoint new members within 60 days. Current members can reapply if they wish.

GRU Authority chairman Craig Carter said he is currently planning on reapplying, but is unsure of the other members, who did not respond to requests for comment from WUFT.

“You have to adapt. That's why the governor put us in place,” Carter said. “To make sure we can adapt and be flexible.”

Gainesville Residents United president Robert “Hutch” Hutchinson said he has been frustrated by the legal process.

“It's a shame that a citizen's group has to sue the state of Florida and the governor, who's the chief law enforcement official at the state, just to follow the law,” he said.

Gainesville Mayor Harvey Ward said he isn’t surprised by the situation unfolding. He said he thinks it will take a long time for everything to be sorted out.

“Certainly, uncertainty is not generally good for the community,” Ward said. “But I think that we need to get comfortable with the ambiguity right now.”

GRU communications director David Warm said in a statement that the utility’s services will not be affected by the change.

“Throughout this transitional period that began in 2023, GRU’s amazing employees have never wavered in their commitment to providing safe and reliable utilities to more than 200,000 local residents,” the statement read. “We understand the importance of the services we provide and will continue to approach our jobs with professional attitudes and act in the best interest of GRU’s customers.”

Carter echoed this.

“We're still going to conduct business until the governor appoints a new board,” he said. “It's business as usual and then we're going to get the new board up to speed as fast as possible.”

Despite the end result of the lawsuit turning out in favor of the citizen group, Hutchinson said he’s wary of whether the new appointees will meet the legal requirements.

“This is a good outcome, but we still have a governor who's going to appoint people who may or may not have the best interests of the city of Gainesville as part of their motivation for serving,” Hutchinson said.

Bottcher said if the new appointees don’t meet the requirements, they aren’t afraid to pick up the legal battle again.

“We want to make sure that there's follow-through on it and it's done correctly,” she said. “That's what the public expects. That's what the public deserves.”

Kristin is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing