BOCC approves $8M radio purchase, waits for GNV

BOCC Commissioner Ken Cornell speaks at a joint meeting with the City of Newberry.
Commissioner Ken Cornell said the sale of the city's trunked radio system is a good deal for Alachua County citizens.
File photo by Seth Johnson

Alachua County voted on Tuesday to accept a contract with the city of Gainesville that would transfer ownership of the city’s trunked radio system for $8 million.  

The county has tried to push a sale through for years and gave the city an ultimatum in December, saying sell the system or the county would build its own. The Gainesville City Commission will vote to accept the contract at its Thursday regular meeting. 

Originally, the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) set a Feb. 14 deadline, but scheduling conflicts extended the timeline two weeks.  

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If approved, Alachua County would take over the system on Oct. 1, 2023. 

Law enforcement and first responders use the trunked radio system across Alachua County. The system has been owned by Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) for years.  

BOCC Commissioner Ken Cornell said the price is probably more than the county would like and less than GRU would like, making for a pretty good deal.  

“I think it’s a good transition for all the citizens both in the city and outside the city,” Cornell said.  

GRU has debt on the system, and the $8 million purchase price will allow the utility to pay most of it off. In December, GRU General Manager Tony Cunningham told the BOCC that the exact amount of debt depends on the calculation method. 

In December, Mayor-elect Harvey Ward told Mainstreet Daily News that the bonds on the system could hold up the sale more so than the city charter. The city hasn’t discussed the issue at a regular meeting since then.  

The contract brought before the BOCC has payment plans from Gainesville and GRU for the next five years to use the system—totaling $4.9 million combined. The contract also includes all equipment at six tower sites across the county. 

The county said it would also issue a flat rate for the next five years to the other system users.  

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This antique radio system was valued at under $4 million dollars and Alachua County Commissioners paid double while the City of Gainesville is having a fire sale on other assets. It’s time the State Legislature audits and does a deep dive into their lack of fiduciary duties. The Alachua County Commissioners are in bed with GRU allowing surcharges and penalties for customers living in the county forced to buy electricity from GRU. Just thinks what our schools , county buildings and households could save . I hope the State steps in. Commissioners and County school board members have accepted salaries while being in office living out of their district and not paid it back. Is that legal Governor Desantis ? Please help!

Cynthia Binder

Bond that have not been purchased or who back up. At maturity date. 4 how long. Its could be madoff n endron mutual bond 60million peoples 401ks gone. 🥚 🐣 not all in. Besides trunked radio needs approval. More government control or the public control.