The City Commission met for the final time in 2014 on Monday night, and while Safety Harbor’s governing body tied up a few loose ends, it quickly became apparent one issue is going to linger well into the New Year.
The topic of establishing new criteria for the city’s volunteer advisory boards has been hotly debated ever since the Charter Review Committee presented its recommendations for amendments to the city’s charter in early November.
Disagreements over term limits and minimum requirements led the item to be pulled from the CRC’s list of recommendations and given a separate platform for further exploration by the commission.
But last night, after agreeing to approve the other eight CRC recommendations by a 4-1 vote, and discussing the matter at length once again, the commission still couldn’t come to a consensus on the advisory board matter.
“You want term limits on the planning and zoning board,” Commissioner Rick Blake said after another round of back-and-forth on the issue. “I’m just trying to cut to the chase here.”
Mayor Andy Steingold responded by saying he would also like to see term limits for the finance advisory committee, adding he believes all of the board criteria needs to be addressed.
“I still think the language across the board for some of these boards needs to be addressed,” he said. “It may be more appropriate to do at a workshop than a meeting.”
Vice Mayor Cliff Merz echoed Steingold’s opinion about minimum criteria, such as requiring expertise in a specific field, and reiterated his stance on term limits.
“I would prefer them across the board,” Merz said, noting the commission could add language allowing for reappointments to any board if no other qualified candidates had applied.
“If there’s nobody else there and these people want to reapply, they can,” he added. “That could be part of each committee’s description.”
However, two commissioners split on the topic when promoted by Commissioner Blake.
“No, I wouldn’t be in favor of doing it,” Diaz replied in regards to setting term limits across the board, while Commissioner Andy Zodrow responded that he would be in favor of the proposal.
In the end the commission directed city staff to schedule a workshop on the issue in order to gain feedback from not only current board members, but members of the public, as well.
According to City Manager Matt Spoor, the workshop will most likely take place in late January or early February.
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Note: Commissioner Rick Blake owns the parent company of Safety Harbor Connect.