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Charter Review Committee meets, establishes schedule

By Staff | Dec 13, 2017

The first meeting of the Charter Review Committee nominated its chairman and vice chairman, as well as the dates for their monthly meetings through June.

Aaron Pruss was elected as the chairperson and Tim Garmager was elected the vice chairperson.

The Charter Review Committee is comprised of Kristie Anders, Garmager, Richard Johnson, Pruss, Jeff Powers, Larry Schopp and Linda Uhler. Two alternates were also chosen, Dorothy Donaldson and Roger Triftshauser and two ex-officio members Charles LeBuff and Porter Goss.

Mayor Kevin Ruane said the Tuesday afternoon meeting was to frame what the Charter Review Committee is tasked to do through July 2018.

“Your responsibility is to first and foremost, we are going to go through the charter from the beginning to the end,” he said.

According to the resolution establishing the committee: “The purpose and function of the City of Sanibel Charter Review Committee shall be to review the current City of Sanibel charter and provide recommendations to the Sanibel City Council regarding whether the charter is sufficient and appropriate as currently written, or whether amendments to the charter are warranted, and if so, to provide recommendations on amendments determined to be appropriate, or necessary.

The wording for any changes to the charter has to be given to the Supervisor of Elections no later than November 2018, which would result in a first and second reading at the City Council September and October meetings.

“I’d like to be done in July with this committee,” Ruane said. “If we were done in July we would have it at the City Council meeting in August, and again in September and the opportunity for the public to weigh in at the second meeting.”

Ultimately, Ruane said the City Council will make the decision on the committee’s input.

“As an advisory committee it is your input, not necessarily your decision,” he said.

The Charter Review Committee will review the first three articles, Powers, Corporate Limits and Legislative, of the charter in January.

“My intent is to certainly start at the beginning of our charter and work through. I don’t necessarily need an awful lot of discussion on certain things. Things like the Land Development Code. We have other reviews that are necessary for that. I am not looking for this body to really get into the substance conversations regarding that,” Ruane said.

Other sections of the charter that the committee will discuss are term limits, compensation for City Council members, and the number of days someone should be appointed to the council after resignation is given. All of these issues have been discussed in recent City Council meetings.

“The hardship that we are going to have on the community is we have to have a special election in March. It’s an additional cost to us. In addition to that, there will certainly be a number of people who want to run and we will look to the taxpayers to help them with their campaign,” Ruane said.

Due to the nature of the content the committee has to go through with the charter, Ruane said the meetings will most likely be lengthy, three hours.

“I’m not advocating you need to change something just to change something. We all know why we are here. We all know what the citizens want,” Ruane said.

The committee scheduled their meetings for Wednesdays at 1 p.m. at City Hall on Jan. 10, Feb. 7, March 7, April 4, May 2, June 6 and June 27.