Robert J. "Bob" Lynn: State must liberate us from city's GRU
Published: Sunday, November 18, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, November 16, 2012 at 4:48 p.m.
Mayor Craig Lowe and other city commissioners looked at me like I was a homeless person cluttering up the meeting room.
I was telling them that an independent board of directors was needed for GRU. Commissioner Todd Chase suggested a committee look into alternative management for the utility, but he was voted down 6-1.
This was a September City Commission meeting about GRU arbitrarily confiscating fuel adjustment funds to offset rising rates when the wood burning electric plant comes on line. Funds that rightfully should be returned to ratepayers in rate reductions.
The Mayor and commissioners seem to be worried in the Nov. 18 Sun article "City to Legislature: Don't take away GRU". They are actually threatening our state legislators!
Most of us are aware that the city of Gainesville got into the utility business about 100 years ago. The reason for doing so was to counteract predatory practices of the private provider.
The city utility was conceived as a non-profit entity. The budget was zero-based that covered operating cost, infrastructure and reserves. Excess money was refunded to the ratepayer.
This worked well until the 1960s, when commissioners discovered they could get additional operating money by setting rates high and skimming the excess.
At first the skim (read scam) was modest, but it grew year after year until, now, the amount has reached a $36 million direct transfer, plus untold millions of city costs paid by GRU.
This so called "utility transfer" is in fact a tax levied without authority by state statute or by the state constitution. This affects county ratepayers who cannot vote in city elections. Taxation without representation. Circa 1760!
This illegal tax waters down accountability and leads to irresponsible spending. The list of ethical and moral violations is lengthy.
The City Commission has proven that it cannot be trusted to manage the citizens' utility. Grievances brought before commissioners have fallen on deaf ears. Therefore, the citizens are left with no choice but to petition state government and the legislature to redress these wrongs.
Robert J. "Bob" Lynn is a Gainesville Realtor.