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Charter changes proffered

By Staff | Jan 16, 2019

The Cape Coral City Council got its first formal look at the Charter Review Commission’s recommended changes to the city charter Monday.

Ryan Peterson, chairman of the CRC, gave a presentation of the appointed board’s findings. Among them was the recommendation to move city elections from odd-numbered to even-numbered years, an issue Council addressed, and approved, via ordinance on Monday.

The CRC also recommended a charter amendment that would remove the mayor’s power of veto for line items in the budget. The CRC said the mayor is one of eight members of the city council, and that form of government does not lend itself to that kind of authority, even though it has been used sparingly since a previous voter-approved charter amendment granted that power.

Other CRC amendments included:

n Lowering the threshold of signatures needed to petition for a referendum from 15 percent to 10 percent.

The panel said since the population is growing, it is getting increasingly more difficult to reach that threshold.

n Leveraging technology by requiring the city to post the city code and budget online at no cost, adding language to clarify that a Mayor or Council member may not contract with the city while in office or one year after the expiration of their term, and clarifying eligibility requirements.

Council was happy with the recommendations and said those items should be discussed in future meetings and considered for referendum.

Council then voted unanimously to sunset the commission.

In other business,:

n City Council once again took up the resolution to grant Ceres Environmental Services the title of primary provider for emergency disaster assistance and debris removal, but not without representatives having to answer some question first.

The city council had tabled the resolution at its Dec. 3 meeting. At that time, Ceres was asked why they did not mobilize and their response was that the city never contacted them.

The city later determined it had contacted Ceres after Hurricane Irma made landfall and that the city received an email response from a Ceres representative that the company would not be able to mobilize.

Brian Fike, director of government relations for Ceres Environmental Services, apologized for the miscommunication within their company regarding the response to Cape Coral, saying the email had slipped through the cracks because of the volume of calls they received from other municipalities in the aftermath of the storm.

The contract with Ceres has been revised to increase the liquidated damages from $1,000 to $3,000 for the city’s cost to engage the services of the secondary debris removal contractor.

n Council authorized City Manager John Szerlag to offer the candidate for the Building Official position within the Community Development Department a salary over the mid-point of the pay grade, which would be $100,000 per year.

n An item that appeared on the agenda, for a sense of direction regarding the sale of beer, wine and smoothies at Sun Splash to generate revenue, was placed on the agenda inadvertently, according to Szerlag, and removed.