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Council starts advertising for Charter Review Committee

By Staff | Jul 26, 2017

Seven members will be elected for the Charter Review Committee to meet once a month for a year to go over the charter in its entirety, according to a vote the City Council took last week.

Those interested in becoming a committee member have to be a full-time Sanibel resident. Deadline is noon on Tuesday, Aug. 25. The City Council will discuss the committee again at their September meeting, after the advertising concludes.

The conversation at the dais began by Mayor Kevin Ruane asking the council how many members should make up the committee and how they should be appointed.

“Do we get to pick one? The problem I have with that is it almost gives the perception that it is your particular person and we have never done that in any other liaison appointment committee in the past,” Ruane said.

Vice Mayor Mick Denham said they should have every council member pick one committee member with two being at large.

Councilman Jim Jennings suggested they should all agree on a person, just like they did for the newly appointed member of the Planning Commission.

“I think that is the best way to do it,” Jennings said. “I think it is easier and better.”

Councilman Chauncey Goss said if they get 20, or 30 names then they would have to sort of cull it down to seven members.

Councilman Jason Maughan suggested having an emeritus position, an original City Council person, if possible, so they can speak to what they were thinking at the time the charter was created.

“I think at the very least, our procedure has always been to advertise for the position and have people apply for it because I don’t want to assume whoever my candidate is might be will want to serve,” Ruane said. “We want to give them an indication of what the job looks like and the task is going to be. How long we might have dialog? How often do we need to get together? We are going to have to come up with basic parameters.”

He went on to say that the first step is to always advertise the position, so they receive a pool of people who are interested.

Ruane also shared that they need to have the opportunity to have a discussion.

“If I pick a particular member and all four of you think I am loco, you say that to me,” he said. “I think we need to have enough common discussion up here. It’s a significant task that we have in front of us.”

Maughan said the committee needs to be comprised of team players.

“Council gets to elect a person with a discussion that you need to get a nod from at least two other people that your person is okay,” he said. “We are appointing people by majority. I think it’s a proper process that we need to go through.”

After the number of committee members were chosen, the council then decided the length of time the committee will have discussing the charter.

City Manager Judie Zimomra shared information from the two charter committees she has been apart of in the past with other communities. She said the agenda was driven by the sections of the charter.

“If there is any follow-up from section one, that would be old business for the next meeting,” Zimomra explained. “Basically you take how many sections there are in the charter and typically meet once a month and work your way through that.”

Ruane said since the charter has not been reviewed in quite some time, he would like the committee to review it from top to bottom.

He said any liaison type of situation, the council does not have a vote.

“It’s their committee. It’s their votes. We basically just try to make sure they stay on task of what we would like to be done. That would be to have monthly meetings and make sure it comes back within the year,” Ruane said.

The committee will have a council member and city staff member liaison.

The monthly meetings are open to the public.

Resident Allison Ward spoke during the public comment portion of the discussion asking if the council knew when the charter was last reviewed.

She said the charter has obtuse language because it requires it to be reviewed within decade years, kind of like a census.

“I was told that the charter had not been reviewed since 1991. That was 26 years ago,” Ward said.

She said the proactive approach for reviewing the city charter has the opportunity to bring the island together, not rip it apart as it did in 1991.

Ward asked the council not to make the committee a specific number because the last time it was reviewed, one person resigned and they had to stop the work. She also asked that they ensure there is a time frame for placement of any possible amendments for voters to decide upon.