Konish: City budget reduction plan is too little, too late

Letter to the editor

The suggested $19 million annual reduction in City spending can never be realized if the new GRU Authority:

  1. demands that the City reimburse GRU or take over social programs such as GRU-paid improvements to private property and discounted utility connections;
  2. refuses to be overcharged for City Support Services;
  3. disagrees with the City calculations for utility tax and the mirror-image “surcharges” on county residents;
  4. refuses to collect stormwater charges, etc.

The City’s methodology for calculating the future siphoning of GRU funds into the City’s coffers ignores the obvious fact that, under the circumstances that have accumulated since January 2000, no GRU funds will be available to City coffers for a long time into the future. Like our troubled freshwater springs, the GRU cash flow is finite and overburdened by debt service recklessly incurred.

Jim Konish, Gainesville

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  • All we can hope for is what you said comes true personally would love to see them have to cut about 34 million out of the city budget

  • The City Commission is going to choke on which woke programs to forgo. I doubt they are intelligent enough to even cut the $19 million, especially with Ward, Saco, Willits and Eastman there.

  • “…under the circumstances that have accumulated since January 2000”…is our condition the result of the city’s political decision for GRU
    to go biomass to lower its carbon footprint to save the planet from global warming?

    • Biomass is the most polluting way to make electricity of all. Our overpriced local unit burns only hardwood. No scraps, no pine or yard waste as promised. Takes the trees 30-40 years to be replaced; hardly renewable or carbon neutral. Also requires 80-100 semi trucks A DAY to feed it.

      • And then there is the story of the USS Nimitz nuke aircraft carrier commissioned in 1973, refueled only ONCE and scheduled for off-loading its nuke stuff in 2025 and completely deactivated by 2027.

        Nuke power may be the way to go.

    • Global by nature requires us to consider how China and India increased carbon emissions during those recent 23 years.
      Q: Why do city leaders ignore how our globalist trade and climate policies made that happen?
      A: pigeon holed silo “expert” thinking with useless college degrees run our stupid city, and country.

    • I imagine all those with the crystal ball saw the coal to natural gas transition in electrical energy production and are now retired and living off those astute observations and investments.
      Many of us, including former GRU head Mike Kurtz never saw that coming. His wish to build a mega coal burning power plant, and selling excess power, was as flawed and we are fortunate that his plan was not adopted.
      Sometimes decisions need to be made and other forces and factors upend the projected goals. Bad timing also comes into play. Natural gas was very expensive pre fracking days.
      This is not an excuse for signing a BAD contract to implement a goal and clearly GRU had a bad deal. Nor is it an excuse for overspending by the City.
      We can continue to beat on biomass horse but it ain’t going to make progress moving to where we need to go.

  • ‘Finite cash flow? It’s the language of a heretic in the Blue Lagoon.

    It would be a stretch of faith to believe the City’s ‘suggested’ $19-million reduction would be implemented with, or without, any GRU Authority friction.

    Government deficit spending has a dynamic which embraces rationalization at the expense of reason and service to those taxed to support it.

    Jim you identified a critical failure of the City; it continues to publicize its methodologies which it believes to be sound but premised in false narratives. Hence, Fitch gives GRU an A+ rating in 2021 and Moody, in January 2023, downgrades the City’s issuance from Aa2 to Aa3.

    The elephant in the room is the possible sale of GRU while it still has bond value given the City’s history of using it as an unlevied ‘revenue’ source.

    The self-serving position the City has taken recently is it is they – the City Commission – who are the victims, not the GRU customers. It is a common defense claimed by the victimizer.

    • Any possible buyer of GRU would have to unload or exclude its office buildings, etc not needed by buyer. The city gov’t might keep those to relocate city hall and Thomas center city offices into, and sell the downtown vacancies.

  • Multiple choice to make us into grownups here:

    a). Expand Gainesville city limits to cover all GRU ratepayers (bringing in more grownup suburban voters for a change);
    b). Expand city limits into all unincorporated county (for the same but even better future);
    c). Merge GRU with Clay and NC Fla. co-op power resellers, and still be a power generator (spreads debt payment burden);
    d). Merge buying power of all Fla. co-op and municipal power utilities, to reduce costs on ratepayers while competing with for-profit multi-state private utilities.

    • The co-op ideas make sense.

      Clay electric had to raise rates last year, but – get this – they lowered them when their costs went down. ‘Even sent an e-mail to customers both times to alert them to the changes.

    • a) typically fails when put to a citizen vote.

      b) same as a) only more so.

      Why would rational co-op boards vote for c)? They are solvent and intent on staying that way. And what kind of climate idiocy would they be buying into? Would they be faced with having a couple city hack politicians on their board? It would also put them into the local mess where the city is transparently trying to construct a myriad of new taxes and budgetary shell games to replace the GFT.

      d) it seems GRU is the one with the problem. Are other municipal providers unable to provide power at competitive rates?

      Maybe this would work better:

      e). give GRU rate payers unable to vote in city elections an annual opportunity to purchase their electrical power from another provider.

    • I live just outside of the woke city I am stuck With GRU no thanks to being a part of it as in being annexed why would anyone want to be part of city ran by idiots let me hook to clay
      Electric and Gainesville keep GRU inside the city

      • I live outside the city and am a GRU customer. I have also been served by Duke and Clay here and GRU has the best customer service and fewest outings in my experience. Clay tries and they are a co-op, but for whatever reason(s) we had more outages and slower repairs when needed.

    • The expanding city limits is off the table and sounds like something the failed City of Gainesville would drool over. Terrible suggestion. How about GRU electric county customer get to vote for a change to switch to Clay !!! That way the City can deal with their debt , not pawn it off on the people they have abused and ripped off.

  • Apparently the wreck less spending by the city commission is coming to an end.
    If you are a recent city New hire, I’d start looking for another job.
    If the bill goes through and GRU is placed under Tallahassee control, things are going to get rough.

  • Maybe they’ll try to become more friendly to new businesses and build the local economy to increase tax revenues the normal American way. Like Ocala or any city run by non-deranged/non-woke people.

    • I have pulled numerous permits in Marion County, Alachua County, and Gainesville. Marion County was the worst, least business friendly experience. Can’t say about Ocala, never built there.

      • Dam do you believe the the words coming out of your mouth.
        Marion county has Amazon FedEx chewy and now they building a Buckys there can’t be as bad as you claim

  • The ultimate solution to this mess with GRU and the reckless spending of the city is going to be in Bankruptcy Court.
    Look at what happened in Detroit when the State of Michigan had to come in and take over.
    It was painful for a few years but for the long term it was for the best and much of the unsustainable debt was erased.

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