The 2015 Safety Harbor municipal election is just over two weeks away, and when voters mark their ballots on Tuesday, March 10, they will not only be filling two City Commissioner seats, they will be asked to vote on six amendments to the City’s charter, also.
The commission appointed Charter Review Committee met for a period of six months last year and worked hard to come up with the proposed changes; the suggestions were discussed and debated, in some cases very hotly, during a series of public meetings in November and December before the Commission agreed on the final versions of the amendments that will appear on the ballot.
Safety Harbor Connect recently published profiles on each of the four City Commission candidates, and thanks to their various campaign outlets as well as other forms of publicity, many residents probably have a good idea who they will be voting for.
But in case you are unfamiliar with the proposed changes to the charter, here is a primer on the six amendments that could also have a significant impact on the City.
The explanations of the amendments were taken directly from the City’s website.
-QUESTION NO. 1: Amended Charter
Should the amended charter which clarifies and amends various charter provisions, corrects clerical and grammatical errors, renumbers various provisions for consistency, provides for the creation of a preamble, amends the deadline for holding an election when there is a vacancy in the City Commission, and removes the requirement that the budget be certified by the City Manager and Clerk, be adopted?
SUMMARY: This amendment, if passed by the voters, will add a Preamble setting forth the purpose and intent of the Charter. The amendment also removes the requirement that the City Manager and City Clerk certify the budget following adoption by the City Commission and clarifies language in Section 19 regarding when special elections are held to fill vacancies without changing any requirements for such an election. The amendment further proposes minor changes throughout the Charter to correct grammatical errors and renumbers sections for consistency.
-QUESTION NO. 2: Repeal of Prohibition on Simultaneous Annexation and Zoning of Single Property
Should section 10 of the city charter, which prohibits a property annexed into the City to be assigned a zoning designation at the same meeting of the City Commission, be repealed?
SUMMARY: The current Charter prohibits the City Commission from voting to annex property into the City and designating a zoning classification for said property at the same meeting of the City Commission. This amendment, if approved by the voters, would allow for the efficient annexation of property by authorizing the City Commission to annex property into the City and establish a zoning classification at the same Commission meeting. This amendment does not alter any pre‐requisite requirements to annexation of property or designation of a zoning classification.
-QUESTION NO. 3: Acknowledgement of Applicability of State Code of Ethics to the City
Should the city charter be amended by adding a section acknowledging that the comprehensive code of ethics for public officers and employees found in Chapter 112, Part III, Florida Statutes applies to the City?
SUMMARY: This amendment, if approved by the voters, will acknowledge that the state code of ethics found in Chapter 112, Part III, Florida Statutes applies to the City. Chapter 112 already governs the behavior of the City’s public officials, and will continue to govern public officer’s behavior even without this amendment. This amendment is intended to acknowledge such requirements.
-QUESTION NO. 4: Commencement of Term of Newly Elected Commissioners and Term of Office of Vice Mayor
Should section 21 of the city charter be amended to provide that newly elected commissioners shall assume their duties at the first regular meeting following certification of the election results, so as to comply with state statute, and to clarify that the Vice-Mayor appointed by the Mayor-Commissioner shall serve for a term of one-year or until a successor is appointed?
SUMMARY: This amendment, if approved by the voters, will clarify that the term of the Vice Mayor is one year. This amendment also changes the date a newly elected commissioner takes office from the first regular meeting following an election, to the first regular meeting following the certification of the election results. This change is made in order to comply with changes in the process of certification of the results of an election.
-QUESTION NO. 5: Initiative and Referendum
Should sections 31 and 35 of the city charter be amended to prohibit the Mayor-Commissioner or any Commissioner from being counted towards the minimum signatures needed on an affidavit commencing an initiative or referendum, and to require any vote of the electorate on a petition for initiative or referendum to occur at the next regularly scheduled city election?
SUMMARY: In order for a citizen to commence an initiative or referendum vote in the City, five (5) qualified voters of the City must sign the petition by filing an affidavit with the City Clerk notifying the City of such a desire to seek an initiative or referendum vote. This amendment, if approved by the voters, will prohibit the Mayor‐Commissioner and Commissioners from being counted towards the minimum number of signatures required to commence such a proceeding. The amendment also changes the date of a referendum to the next regularly scheduled City election, or on a date when the Supervisor of Elections is able to support an election, rather than the present requirement that requires the election to be held between 90 and 180 days of the submission of a petition.
-QUESTION NO. 6: City Manager Residency Requirement
Should section 41 of the city charter be amended to require that a City Manager appointed after March 10, 2015 be required to reside within the City limits within one (1) year of the date they take office, unless the City Commission votes to waive this requirement?
SUMMARY: The current City Charter does not require the City Manager to reside within the City. This amendment will amend the Charter to require the City Manager to reside within the City. If at the time of appointment the City Manager is not a resident of the City, he or she will have one year to move into the City. The City Commission will have the authority to waive this residency requirement. This amendment, if approved by the voters, will take effect following the March 2015 election and will only apply to any City Manager appointed after the March 2015 election. The current City Manager will not be impacted by this amendment, and will not be subject to the residency requirement.
- Charter Review Committee Recommendations Met With Much Debate
- SHCC Makes Decisions On Term Limit, City Manager Issues
- Term Limit Debate Gets Tense at SHCC Meeting
- Safety Harbor Candidate Poll, Upcoming Forum Set
- 2015 Safety Harbor Election Candidate Profiles