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GRU, county leaders debate new $1.8 million price for public safety radio system: How it affects taxpayers

Published: Feb. 1, 2021 at 6:20 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - The debate continues. GRU and county leaders came together to discuss issues surrounding payments for the county’s radio dispatch services.

The original agreement between the county and GRU ended in September 2020. Since then, there have been negotiations to finalize a new agreement

In a letter to the county on January 4th, in the middle of negotiations, GRU executives said they decided on the new terms of the agreement-- which included tripling costs of the radio service to 1.8 million a year paid in full, upfront.

The letter continued to say if the new price, which meant a leftover $1.6 million for the current fiscal year is not paid in 45 days, services would be cut off.

The county says that the agreement was one-sided and they want more information on where that money is going.

“We were working off a set of numbers that is not what we got a bill for ... so we also have a fiduciary responsibility to our taxpayers to know what is in that number,” said County Manager Michele Lieberman.

Bielarski says while the county figures out payment responsibility -- taxpayers are paying the county’s costs.

“You can argue who is gonna come out of their pocket for it ... but GRUcom is providing the service and we are being hurt every day ... while you are all discussing all these other things-- future expansion, CCC. Handle it! Utility customers are paying for it right now.”

The county says they simply need more information.

“As we sign a contract and potentially a ten-year contract ... we have to protect the interest of the county resident. I am still holding onto the faith that we are going to have an agreement and that we will have one county-wide system,” said Alachua County Fire Rescue Chief Harold Theus.

The next meeting to continue the conversation and negotiations will be held on February 15th at 10:30 AM.

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