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Council to consider charter changes

By Staff | Jun 12, 2015

Seven City Charter amendment ordinances recommended by the Charter Review Committee go before City Council Monday night at City Hall for final approval for placement on the ballot.

The hearings were set when the ordinances were introduced at the June 1 meeting soon after the committee presented them to council in May.

Public comments are expected as council discusses each amendment once again.

“I think the committee did a good job in offering the amendments,” said Councilmember Rana Erbrick. “Now it is up to council to move it to the ballot where the community can agree or disagree with their vote.”

Erbrick called the ordinance amendments viable on their own merit. She said some are mere housekeeping measures to bring the charter in line with state and federal statutes so the city does not have to revisit them down the road.

“It’s kind of a once-and-done thing,” Erbrick said. “Reducing the petitions figure, for instance, has been hanging out there for a while. Now we decide if we want to make it easier to move something forward or not. I do expect all (seven) to be put on the next ballot (November).”

The seven amendments for the referendum include establishing an annual salary for council members and mayor based on what proponents say is the fair market rather than based on the number of registered voters.

“I’m a bit nervous about the salary amendment, but I agree with all of them going forward” said Councilmember Rick Williams. “I?think people don’t understand what our job is and hot to get qualified candidates. I’m afraid it probably will be rejected by the voters. Our voter turnout is so low. A lot of voters are very strong conservatives or strong liberals, it depends on which ones turn out. Unfortunately, we don’t get a good cross section of voters here.”

Another would limit the severance pay for employment termination of city department heads and managers to up to four month’s salay or an amount otherwise provided by state law, whichever is less.

Also under consideration is a decrease in the number of signatures required for citizen initiatives or petitions to be brought before council. Also, reducing the number of members on the Charter Review Commission from nine to seven with two alternate positions.

Another ordinance deals with regulations for enacting emergency ordinances in the event of major disasters in accordance with state law. Still another ordinance decreases the affirmative vote of council needed to override a veto by the mayor of a line item in the city budget from two-thirds of Council to a majority of council present, but no less than four members.

The last ordinance specifies the classes of individuals that cannot be discriminated against with respect to any city position or appointive city administrative office.

A number of other ordinances and resolutions will come before council for discussion as well, including one to define amplified sound and equipment in order to regulate its use at special events and provide penalties for violations.

One resolution seeks to grant a certificate to operate four limousines or taxis within city limits to Melissa Durand of Affordable Limousine Service. Another seeks to authorize the mayor to execute an agreement with Florida DOT to install sidewalks on Wildwood/Palm Tree Boulevard.

The city also is expected to vote on a resolution to issue water and sewer revenue bonds in an amount not to exceed $100 million with Bank of America.

Council will be asked to approve the purchase of fire apparatus vehicles and equipment within the General Fund and to dispose of city owned surplus no longer needed because of the new purchases. The purchases will be made from the proceeds authorized by the Fire Service Assessment revenue valued at $1.5 million.

As if the agenda for the final council meeting before their summer hiatus was not full enough, council also will discuss the Segal Waters presentation on the city’s classification and general pay structure outcome.

Monday’s meeting starts at 4:30 p.m. in Council Chambers.