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GRU responds to the City Manager’s message about the City’s budget

Press release from Gainesville Regional Utilities

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Today Gainesville Regional Utilities Interim CEO Ed Bielarski released the following response to Gainesville City Manager Cynthia Curry’s message about the City’s FY2025 budget:

The email Gainesville City Manager Cynthia Curry sent today about the City’s fiscal year 2025 budget is a perfect illustration of why GRU needs to operate under an independent authority. This is the latest in a series of communications that weaponizes the annual multi-million-dollar contribution GRU makes to the City’s general fund, including threatening that a reduction will cause the City to cut fire and police services. The $68 million overpayment the email dismisses is based on generally-accepted accounting principles rather than a nuanced calculation no other municipal utility uses as a proxy for transfers.

Ultimately, all these communications accomplish is to further vilify GRU’s employees by contributing to the narrative that GRU is a bad actor. Even more confounding is that GRU is a department of the City, albeit one overseen by an independent board. This kind of rhetoric has for years worsened GRU’s reputation and should cease immediately for the good of both our employees and customers.

– GRU CEO Ed Bielarski
    • Only three or four years ago, Gainesville decided they their Charter officers needed to make salaries in line with other cities. Somehow, they finally arrived at salary comparable to large cities such as Atlanta. A city of similar size to Gainesville is Valdosta, Georgia (150k citizens) where the city manager makes $130,000 per year. And the finance Director makes $110,000 per year. Contrast those with the absurdly ridiculous huge salaries that the city commission arrived at that would be appropriate for charter officers. This was all done to placate and muzzle these Charter Officers. This is a great place to start cutting! if they don’t want to work for that, then advertise the job and hire someone else.

  • Ed Bielarski, king of p*ssing contests. He has never seen a comment go by that he did not have to reply to.

  • Most citizens, rate payers, and voters (with the exception of radical progressives) realize that the city has now activated their crisis management plan, and as such, will continue to poison the community well and deceive those they supposedly represent. Cynthia’s press release is just the latest exhibit.

  • Why are county residents paying for the city’s bills? Taxation without representation. Also, who got paid off to sign the waste to energy joke contracts?

    • You are paying for electricity and perhaps water, maybe gas and sewer services. Do you think you should be getting that for nothing? The beef the county residents who have GRU begins and ends with a perception they are being charged more for electricity than they should be charged, and that since there was not any County representation on the Board, their voice couldn’t be heard. Well, y’all got your wish. The obvious question is just what is that going to achieve?

      • $68 million dollars being transferred from GRU to the Marxist city’s social justice policies.

      • You are seriously clueless. Who said anything about getting anything for free. He’s referring to COUNTY people not getting a VOTE something they have to use

        • Do FPL or Duke energy customers get to vote for something? This is a genuine question. I’m trying to understand.

  • Once again, it’s civilization vs. the barbarians. The governor should remove Curry and some others for being bad-faith actors.

    • No money for rainbow flags and bike lanes, sorry, not sorry.

    • Yes, Jizzler you tell him. I am the back-Ward Mayor of Gainesville. I will fight Big Daddy Eddy B till the end. What is he thinking, got himself his old job back, and trying to save our, I mean MY citizens, money on their GRU bills by paying down the debt that I have helped put on GRU. The nerve of this guy. That is my money in the GRU cookie jar, and I want it and want it all. Let the ones I rule over continue to pay for my spending via their GRU bills. Do what the Jizz Guzzle said and get out of my way of the GRU cookie jar. All this talk about cookies got me hungry, off I go the daily, city funded donut buffet.

    • Now if the Mayor and his cronies would shut up and get out of the way maybe he could.

  • Running GRU takes a whole lot more education, skill and talent than being voted in as mayor or as a commissioner by a very small population who actually vote. And those voters get nothing out of the people they elect other than a lot of BS double talk which is the saddest thing. Imagine voting for people to help you who actually laugh at how dumb you are to give them any power??? Why should Ed need to shut up? His job is way more important than the mayor or commissioners who act more like buffoons and who appear to enjoy using city resources to fund pet projects. Follow the money. Ed has a real job to do. Every damn day. Everything he said in response to Curry is spot on. That is the exact angle the commissioners and CM are using. Get rid of essential services and loudly blame it on GRU. Gaslight, gaslight, gaslight. Make GRU the bad guy. Anyone with any sense at all sees that stupid plot. The politicians are like roaches running from the light. You just don’t like Ed calling out the truth on what you are doing. We all see you. You aren’t invisible and your kangaroo court “power” is being questioned and reduced daily. Thank God the Governor sees you too. For the first time in a very long time, there is some actual hope for Gainesville.

    • As Chairman Beilarski’s job is to pursue and execute goals set by others. That should be the city commission since the citizens elected them and they own GRU. However, due to the GOP partisan take over by Tallahassee, the “Authority” illegitimately has that power and he is no longer part of that board. He should shut up and do his job, which is not politicking and setting policy. No one elected him Mayor, and in fact he tried to get Gainesville citizens to do so and failed.

      • Your first comment is absolutely on target, Jazzman. I would follow it up by asking you how has the board of directors (the city commission) done so far? They (not this board but the mayor & commission under pegeen) fired Mike Kurtz. Seems like the professionals in that field thought he was pretty darn good as he received the highest award given to a municipal power manager from his peers. The rest of it, I don’t agree with except for the fact that he should ignore the Commission (but I doubt he will) because they are now irrelevant.

        • Tony, sorry you don’t support democracy, where citizens elect the leaders who administer their property, elect new ones if they think previous ones did not perform, and take the consequences of their actions. Are you new to America?

          • Looking back, it hasn’t worked very well here, I’d say. In fact, we’re pretty much in a straight line freefall….oh, and we’re a Republic and what was done is legal. I saw this coming over 20 years ago and predicted it.

          • Thanks for your honesty in stating your opposition to democracy – “the worst form of government except for all the others” – but legally and practically we are one (A Republic is a subset of the larger set democracies where the people elect representatives. You get that, right?), but unfortunately not in Alachua and Gainesville where the minority party locally has managed on the state level to not only gerrymander us to full neutered status, but is now taking the unprecedented and illegal steps of taking over our local governments. This GRU scam is item #1, and the phony single member district with the campaign of lies #2 (most counties in Florida are not single member districts, but our GOP legislature targeted blue Alachua County because it could). Of course the overly partisan Governor is fully on board with this. Yeah, I know “illegal” doesn’t matter when the Governor has appointed virtually all the boards and judges who might stand in the way.

      • Not any more. His job as manager of GRU is to fix the mess the idiots you continue to support, have gotten the “citizen owned” utility into.
        You should probably go regurgitate somewhere else for a while or is Ward just feeding you overtime?

  • I EXPECT TO SEE A DECREASE IN MY UTILITY BILLS! AND HOW ABOUT RETRO ACTIVE REIMBURSEMENT FOR ALL THOSE ADDITIONAL FEES AND TAXES.

  • Wasn’t biomass “free energy”? And wasn’t huge student apts and infill supposed to increase tax revenues and GRU income? If so, why is the city budget under stress? Is it about added costs for new trendy programs designed to help us compete with Portland, Oakland, and Seattle ? How’s that turning out…
    😣 🤡👹

    • It was such a stupid decision…..blame pegeen, lowe, nielsen, donovan, et al. for that one….among other things.

  • FIRST, Gainesville Mayor Ward recently delivered a lengthy speech, as if he was a utility expert, went on and on and on with advice on how to manage GRU’s unsustainable multi BILLION dollar debt, after HE and other members serving on the city commission, over the years, drove GRU over the Financial Cliff.

    Then, Mr. Ward ended his lengthy speech with FEAR TACTICS in regard to the GRU Authority reducing the GRU general fund transfer.

    NOW, the lavishly paid Gainesville City Manager appears to think she is a utility expert as well.

    They, want GRU customers to continue paying for their LAVISH salaries, MASSIVE staff and BLOATED city budgets.

    • I can’t believe a person with NO city manager experience makes $300,000.00 dollars!

    • You should check into the property, homeless housing initiatives and multi use trails the city seems to have endless funds for but emergency services they can’t seem to find money for unless GRU coughs up more funds

  • Ed. This is neither about you, Carter, Nee or Lawson. This is about GRU ratepayers and employees. Please turn over the messaging to a professional. You are no match for Eastman. Few are.

    • Time spent arguing in the op ed columns is time lost toward the goal of getting GRU back on its feet. Let’s turn trend of downward bond ratings around and that can do the talking.

    • I would take Ed over Eastman any day. I prefer hearing facts and truth.

  • “…including threatening that a reduction will cause the City to cut fire and police services.”

    Really? I doubt that. The city should cut all other pet projects, including DEI and the Grace Marketplace and all others.

  • It’s well past time we cut off the city from any GRU transfer $$$. County residents aren’t represented and still having to pay for city services they don’t receive.

  • Cut the Climate department, unnecessary. Cut the Communications Department. Unnecessary. Cut Equity & Inclusion. Cut Gainesville Community Reinvestment Area. Cut Housing and Community Development. What is Non-Departmental? That is over $30 million! Cut Sustainable Development. Cut Strategy, Planning & INNOVATION! There, that took me about 6 minutes to do. That’s a start.

    • Cut the Reichert House! It’s been a scam for over a decade, a graft bucket for Tony Jones, his family and friends.

      • True. Forgot about that. In fact, if you recall, the city Auditor (a charter officer) found ‘irregularities’ and instead of correcting them, the city commission FIRED the auditor!

  • We all called it months ago. The Gainesville City Commission will threaten to cut fire, police, parks/playgrounds, etc.–anything and everything except for their own pet projects and DEI programs in order to make GRU / GRUA look like the bad guys.

    I’m sure they will threaten to raise taxes, too.

    The GCC are like drug addicts that maxed out the family credit cards and stole all the valuables, and now are throwing a tantrum because we won’t give them any more money.

  • I wrote this letter to the G’ville Sun many years ago….it was published: Thank you for writing such a wonderful editorial (“Punishing success,” March 27) shedding light on what several members of this City Commission were trying to do to one of Gainesville’s finest servants, GRU’s General Manager, Mike Kurtz. As a former City Commissioner, I have seen this day coming for over two years and wondered if anyone would come to this fine, highly qualified man’s defense.

    As your editorial pointed out, when compared to other municipal utilities GRU is in the 99th percentile with, depending on when one checks, only 9 to 13 of over 2,000 utilities in America enjoying a higher bond rating. Unmentioned in the editorial was that our bond rating was “dinged” this past year because this Commission has yet to make a decision on our future energy requirements.
    Reductions in bond ratings cost us millions. Additionally, because of indecision, ignorance, and/or arrogance on the part of some on this Commission, the cost for Deerhaven II’s retrofit has risen from $90 million to $101 million. Who will pay the $11 million?

    Each year, while on Gainesville’s City Commission, I made a point to attend the annual state municipal power meetings because of the importance this utility is to our citizens and could not help but notice how other managers of municipal utilities frequently sought an audience with Mike Kurtz and his management staff. The reason for this behavior is because peer professionals recognize GRU as an excellently and progressively run utility.

    Monday’s editorial stated that “It would be virtually impossible for any objective board of directors to fire this CEO on the strength of job performance and results. “This is clearly not an “objective board of directors”. Moreover, they are putting the health and welfare of the city of Gainesville and its residents at great risk.
    What is appalling is that years from now, when this city is bankrupt, taxes are even more oppressive, and our energy costs are exorbitant, no one will know who had the “foresight” to create such a mess. The fingerprints of this Commission will be long gone as we struggle to survive.

    For this reason, I am calling for the objective residents living in Gainesville and Alachua County to remove this community’s valuable asset from petty politics and form an independent utility board such as Jacksonville, Keys Energy, Orlando, etc. You would not have heard such a suggestion from me two 2 years ago, just as I did not support consolidation. However, given the importance of this utility to our community and given this Commission’s penchant for making life difficult for those who serve it so admirably, I say it is time for an independent utility board similar to the Airport Authority.
    Indeed, I am reconsidering my position on many issues The Gainesville Sun has presented to its readers in the past few years. Dr. E.T. York was right; I was wrong. The future is bleak for most of us living in Gainesville and that saddens me.

    • The Gainesville City Mayor and Commissioner’s will continue to contribute in many ways to Gainesville’s financial follies as long as they are in denial of their many failures , starting with GRU. If they just could accept reality it would be a start. Do they realize that they are the only Group in Florida that has been fired and removed from running a utility??? They are the butt of jokes all over the State ,and they still think they are smarter than our neighbors who are not bankrupt. The down ward spiral continues as long as the woke citizens of Gainesville support them.

      • You’re right. It is pretty clear too….except, of course, to the liberals.

      • Neither the city or GRU is bankrupt (GRU has the same credit rating as Florida Power and Light and is rated “stable”). Gainesville had it’s utility seized because it has no legislative power – that’s where this hostile takeover occurred – and 2 traitorous residents elected by other counties posing as our legislative leaders. One of them received $100k in illegal campaign funds from Fl Power and Light. No doubt our county and Gainesville is the butt of jokes at GOP meetings since they have successfully neutered both governments and therefore it’s citizens.

        • FPL is 10X the size of GRU. FPL didn’t spend 700 BILLION on a biomass planet that’s only worth 300 and burns DIRTIER than clean coal or natural gas.

  • The charter of GRU is to provide reliable and economical power to Gainesville, not to act as a hidden tax vehicle for the City Commission to play with. The City commission always threatens essential services, but somehow budget issues never touch their social festivals and parades or their decorative projects and new public buildings. Just our road work, fire, police.

  • Hey Ed. You were part of the problem why GRU is in this mess AND another one just like it is on the way. THE GREEN AGENDA you and this city pushes in NOT feasible. The BIOMASS BOONDOGGLE is the MAJOR reason this utility is in this situation. You’re doing it again with the SOLAR agreement that was kept behind closed doors.

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