Ron Starling: Vote against annexation based on biomass mess

Published: Friday, April 5, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, April 4, 2013 at 4:45 p.m.

Many of the northwest property owners were taken by surprise when we read in the newspaper that the Gainesville City Commission was holding a vote to have a referendum on annexing our area into the city.

They did not ask if our desire was to become part of the city. We thought that with the recent 90 percent vote against annexing the unincorporated area of Precinct 40 that city leaders must understand that we wish to remain in the county.

On April 9 we will be voting on annexation. I hope that my fellow homeowners will vote "no." Let me explain why we hope you will join us in rejecting the city invitation.

As a county resident, I understand I am paying a surcharge on my electric and water rates. However, as a city resident I will be subjecting our home to potential increased property taxes. The property tax will rise due to the city's need for more revenue after this biomass mess blows up in its face.

The need for more revenue will surface when Gainesville Regional Utilities is unable to continue being the city's cash cow. Its annual contribution to the city will be reduced when GRU sustains losses from the sale of excess power at a loss. Why would anyone buy energy from GRU when they can buy energy cheaper from another source?

It is not important whether I agree with the biomass mess, but that the contract is a disaster waiting to happen. The city prides itself in being green-energy conscious. How are they green-energy conscious when they will use 1 million gallons per day of water as a cooling system for the biomass plant?

The city has a fire fee. I pay property taxes for fire and police protection. Let me state that I am very pleased with both the fire and police protection we receive. Sheriff Sadie Darnell has done an outstanding job of providing police protection even with opposition from some county commissioners.

The fire fee in the city also includes churches. I am opposed to taxing churches. What new fees or burdensome regulations do they have in mind? Remember, if you speak at City Commission meetings, they give the citizens — their employers — only two minutes to speak. If you disagree you are called a whiner. The two-minute rule is insane.

Many seniors and financially struggling individuals cannot afford to pay increased property taxes and fire fees. GRU rates will increase due to the crazy biomass contract.

I believe that the City Commission has made bad decisions. Thus, I do not want these individuals representing me.

When you vote, vote with your wallet, pocket book and check book because that is what you need to think about. Taxes in the form of property taxes and fire fees will increase. Vote no and tell city commissioners we do not want to be in the city.

Ron Starling lives in the part of Precinct 22 proposed for annexation.

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