Charter Questions: Part III

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Over the last three weeks, we’ve offered readers a look at the first sixteen Town of Fort Myers Beach Charter Referendum questions that voters will see on the March 15 ballot. There will be a total of 21 Charter Referendum questions on that ballot, each one asking for a yes or no response from voters.

Our current Town Charter calls for a Charter Review every 10 years. Late in 2014, Town Council appointed five community members to serve on a Charter Review Committee (CRC). They were Tom Babcock, Chair and Miffie Greer, Vice-Chair, Dan Hughes, Jay Light and Dan Parker. After numerous meetings, lots of discussion and careful reading of the charter, they presented Town Council with their recommendations. After two public hearings, Council agreed to put 21 proposed charter changes on the ballot in March.

This week we will take a look at the final few Referendum questions 17-21.

REFERENDUM #17

Sec. 6.02

CLARIFYING COUNCIL VOTE TO REMOVE TOWN MANAGER

 SUMMARY:  This amendment clarifies that removal of the Town Manager requires an affirmative vote of at least three Council members.

Sec. 6.02.  Removal. 

 The council may remove the town manager for any reason by affirmative vote of at least 3 members of the council. If the vote is less than unanimous by all council members, the town manager may, within 7 days of the dismissal motion by council, submit to the mayor a written request for reconsideration. Any action taken by the council at the reconsideration hearing shall be final.

REFERENDUM # 18

Sec. 6.01

CLARIFYING THE TERMS OF THE TOWN MANAGER’S APPOINTMENT

 SUMMARY:  This amendment removes the requirement that Town Council appoint a Town Manager for an indefinite term.

Sec. 6.01. Appointment and qualifications. 

 The council shall appoint a town manager for an indefinite term and fix compensation. The town manager shall be appointed primarily on the basis of executive and administrative qualifications.

Questions 17 and 18 deal with the Town Manager. Question 17 adds the requirement that a majority of Council, not just a majority of council members at a meeting, must agree to remove the Town Manager. Question 18 changes to Charter to comply with current practice and allows Council necessary leeway in their selection.

 REFERENDUM # 19

Sec. 12.02

REMOVING THE REFRENDUM REQUIREMENT FOR ROAD AND BRIDGE TOLLS

 SUMMARY:  This amendment deletes the requirement for a referendum vote before the Council can impose bridge or road tolls. Amendment will reflect the reality that the Town does not own any toll-able bridges or roads.

Sec. 12.02. Tolls Referendum.

                       The council may impose road or bridge tolls only after approval by the electors, as provided by general law.

 The bridges leading to Fort Myers Beach are owned by the state. While Islanders may want to have a say in any future decision on whether a toll is ever collected on those bridges, a clause in the Charter does not guarantee they would and would not be binding on those who do own the bridges.

REFERENDUM # 20

Sec. 16.01

REMOVING OBSOLETE LANGUAGE REGARDING INDEPENDENT SPECIAL DISTRICTS

 SUMMARY:  This amendment is necessary to clean up the charter. It will eliminate provisions applicable to local independent special districts within the boundaries of the Town. No independent special districts exist wholly within the boundaries of the Town.

Article XVI.   Independent Special Districts.

Sec. 16.01.  [Dissolution procedure; interlocal agreements between town and districts.]

Its recognized that certain services within the municipal boundaries are provided by independent special districts created by special acts of the Florida Legislature. The municipality is empowered to merge the functions of said districts with those of the municipality only upon dissolution of the special district, or upon affirmative vote of a majority of the town council and an affirmative vote of the majority of the council or board governing the district after meeting all requirements for merger or dissolution in the district’s enabling legislation and chapter 189, Florida Statutes. It is recognized that certain planning and interlocal agreements may be necessary between the town and such districts and the town council shall endeavor to maximize the benefits of the districts to the fullest extent possible. In the event the town council desires to supplement or duplicate services determined to be inadequate, the council is fully empowered to do so.

There are no independent special districts wholly located within the limits of Fort Myers Beach. The CRC recommends deleting this entire section.

REFERENDUM # 21

Sec. 17.01

REMOVING UNNECESSARY LANGAUGE REGARDING REVENUE SHARING

SUMMARY:  This amendment is necessary to clean up the Charter. The Town Charter currently contains language regarding eligibility for state revenue sharing based on the calculations including local special districts. This authority is already provided for by both a special act of the legislature and by general law.

Article XVII.   Revenue Sharing.

Sec. 17.01. [Town eligibility; procedure.]

It is recognized that the services provided by independent districts within the municipal boundaries provide essential services which would customarily be provided by municipal government. It is therefore declared that the Town of Fort Myers Beach shall be eligible to participate in revenue-sharing beyond the minimum entitlement in any fiscal year, provided that the town and all independent special districts created under special law, combined, levy ad valorem taxes in amounts as required by section 218.23, Florida Statutes.

There are several non-referendum Charter amendments dealing with the transition of the Town when first established that will be eliminated. The Charter itself calls for their elimination once transition was completed. They dealt with establishing a Town Council and initial contractual services for the Town.

Watch for a brief summary of all 21 Charter Amendments in early March in the Island Sand Paper.

Missy Layfield