Dunnellon loses $2.6M, wants out of cable, Internet business

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DUNNELLON, Fla. - There are plenty of cities that control their own water services, but the city of Dunnellon has its own cable and Internet business, and it wants out.

City leaders borrowed $8 million in 2011 to form Greenlight Communications, but Channel 9 learned the system lost more than a quarter of that money last year due to lack of customers.

The business is located in a small office off the main drag of Dunnellon.

"People are going to compare prices and when all this went down, the economy wasn't doing well," said resident Cheryl Shaffer.

In 2011, the city borrowed the money to build a cellphone, Internet and cable TV system to compete with the likes of Comcast, but two years later, it's going under.

Shaffer said city leaders have themselves to blame.

"(It) made a lot of people mad outside the city limits. And that's a big area out there. I live out there," she said.

Last year, residents in the Rainbow Springs Community protested the water rates the city was charging. The demonstrators also called for a boycott of Greenlight.

This week, a consultant told City Council the two systems lost $2.6 million last year, and a plan is now on the table to sell the telecommunication company and its infrastructure.

The city manager was not available for comment on Tuesday. The mayor told Channel 9 he didn't want to say anything that would jeopardize the sale.

If the sale doesn't go through, the city may have to declare a financial emergency, which would have to be reported to the governor's office.

The mayor told Channel 9 there are a couple of interested buyers but the city isn't naming them.