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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Gainesville City Commission approves second reading of GRU oversight referendum

The ordinance will appear on the November general election ballot

In its Thursday Special Meeting, the Gainesville City Commission approved the second reading of ordinance 2024-23 for a proposed Gainesville Regional Utilities oversight charter amendment. 

The amendment will put the referendum on the November general election ballot, allowing voters to decide whether the GRU authority should return to city commission oversight. 

During public comment, opposition to the ordinance asserted the charter amendment defies House Bill 1645, which initially established the governor-appointed GRU authority July 2023. 

Kiersten Ballou, a Folds Walker associate attorney, said the ordinance violates preexisting law and is confusing. 

“The proposed ballot language is vague and does not give the voters an adequate understanding of what is being changed,” Ballou said. 

However, supporters voiced the importance of placing the GRU authority back into the community’s hands. 

League of Women Voters President Janice Garry said Gainesville citizens face obstacles communicating their concerns to the governor-appointed board.

“They [the GRU authority] have no obligation and no oversight to listen to GRU customers,” she said. 

The Clerk of the Commission will deliver the adopted ordinance to the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections by June 15 to request the proposed charter amendment be placed on the November 5 general election ballot. 

Additionally, a proclamation was made honoring the 50th Anniversary of the Zeta Kappa Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma. The proclamation was presented by Mayor Harvey Ward to Mike Powell, Rev. John Cowart and Damian Britton, all brothers of the fraternity. 

The historically black fraternity was founded January 9, 1914, at Howard University in Washington, DC. A University of Florida chapter was incorporated March 1, 1974, and Mayor Ward said it has generated more than $200 million for the local Alachua County economy. 

The next general city commission meeting is scheduled June 6.

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Morgan Vanderlaan

Morgan Vanderlaan is a first-year Political Science and English major and the City and County Commission Reporter for The Alligator. When she’s not on the clock, she can be found watching, writing and reciting theatre!

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