Alachua County Commission approves multi-million dollar purchase of emergency radio system from GRU
The county has been trying to purchase the system from the utility for more than three years
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - The Alachua County Commission approved plans to purchase the trunked emergency radio system from GRU, allowing it to come under county control.
The county has been trying to purchase the system from GRU-com for more than three years.
In 2021, the county agreed to pay $2.7 million after a dispute over the cost of using the system.
Now, the county is willing to pay $8 million to take control of the system.
“The county would probably like to pay a little bit less and the city would like us to pay a little bit more,” said Alachua County District 4 Commissioner, Ken Cornell, “so whenever you have that situation where everyone’s kind of unhappy, it means you’ve probably gotten to the right place...It’s a good compromise for both the citizens of the city of Gainesville and all the users outside the city of Gainesville.”
The proposed transaction comes just one day after Gainesville made reducing GRU’s debt one of its top priorities.
“I think this is a good transaction for them,” said Cornell. “It allows them to kind of offload part of the system to the county, who can then expand and improve it.”
Alachua County’s Fire Rescue Chief, Harold Theus, said there won’t be many short-term effects from the possible transition, but the long-term effects will be plentiful.
“This is a much more efficient way to run the radio system,” said Theus, “and it’s going to provide a cost savings to the taxpayer over the long term.”
“In the future--in the near future--we will be expanding the radio system so that we have better radio coverage into the unincorporated areas of Alachua County,” continued Theus. “LaCrosse, Archer, Micanopy, Newberry area, where we’ve had remarkable growth in the last two years. Along with that, some difficulties communicating with portable radios. The expanded towers and radio capacity in those areas is really important.”
A GRU representative did not want to comment until city leaders vote on the proposal at Thursday’s commission meeting.
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