GRUCom the rising price of wi-fi public security methods might affect first help departments
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) – GRUCom has asked Alachua County to pay $ 1.6 million to continue using the improved public safety radio system.
Alachua County officials said they had expected costs to rise and estimated $ 1.1 million to cover it.
Now district leaders are shocked after receiving a letter from the utility this week asking them to pay the $ 1.6 million bill within 45 days.
“The public radio system is the lifeline for all of your Alachua County public safety agencies,” said Harold Theus, Alachua County fire chief.
If the bill is not paid on time, agencies like Alachua County Fire Rescue and the Newberry Fire Department will not have access to the radio system.
“You wouldn’t let a fire truck on your house or a rescue team or a police officer respond to a call. Without a radio system there would be no form, no method of communication. “Said Theus.
The radio system agreement between GRUCom and Alachua County began in 1999 and expired in September 2020. No new agreement has been signed between the two since then.
“The new agreement enables us to cover our costs, which is a fair agreement for GRUCom and the entire community,” said GRU General Director Ed Bielarski. “It’s not fair to ask utility customers to continue subsidizing public safety radio. So we’re glad our subscribers are supporting this change.”
GRU employees said they completed a $ 5 million system upgrade in 2018. They didn’t raise the prices right away. However, users are now charged a subscription fee based on their percentage of talk time in the previous fiscal year compared to total system minutes used.
In December, utility management made a decision to send a letter to Alachua County, on the recommendation of the city attorney, asking the county to pay the bill.
District leaders said they understand the costs must be covered but were surprised to hear they wanted it to be paid within 45 days.
“I think there are really two problems. Let’s find out what’s owed from the past and see what we want to do together in the future. Let’s get together and sort that out,” said Ken Cornell, chairman of Alachua County Commission.
The district commission passed a resolution Tuesday saying that if an attempt is made to end radio services before an agreement is reached, the district could apply for an injunction to halt the attempt until then.
“I hope that cooler heads will prevail. I hope that we can now have some discussions with GRUCom and our other partners to ensure that we can reach an agreement, ”said Theus.
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