The Holmes Beach Charter Review Committee saw its biggest audience yet Feb. 6.
“We have an audience for new business today,” Committee chair Bob Johnson said.
The audience included Mayor Carmel Monti, who told the committee the mayor should have the ability to vote when the commission lacks a quorum and in the event of a tie vote by commissioners.
The city presently has a weak mayor form of government, and the mayor has no vote in legislative matters. The mayor, according to the present charter, acts as the administrator, carrying out direction from the commission.
The day’s agenda included scrutinizing the articles covering the mayor, city clerk, city treasurer, city attorney, the police department and the public works and building department, and representatives from the city departments attended.
Johnson solicited comments from the city staff throughout the committee’s review process.
The committee reviewed Article 4 on the mayor and Article 5 on the city clerk.
Changes were suggested by committee members for clarity and consistency throughout Article 4.
Members also commented on term lengths for the mayor, which had been discussed in previous meetings. It was suggested the term lengths for city commissioner and the mayor be longer. The issue already has been added to a list to be given a closer look following the committee’s familiarization process.
Monti also asked the committee to consider adding a monthly expense account of $100 for the mayor, for situations where he attends business meetings or lunches with county officials.
“I’m being paid so little, I don’t feel like I should have to pick up the bill,” Monti said. “I’ve been trying to foster a relationship with Manatee County that hasn’t been done in the last year.”
Responses regarding the expense account across the room varied. City treasurer Laurie Hill said that because of the tax structure of the payments made to the mayor, expenses should come out of the mayor’s salary.
The mayor and city commissioners receive compensation, although in the past it was not considered salary. The mayor is paid $12,000 per year, and commissioners receive $6,000.
“I don’t think it’s addressed in the charter,” said committee member Pam Leckie, “but it should be addressed.”
Committee members agreed the difference in compensation for the mayor and Manatee County commissioners is wide. County commissioners are salaried at more than $80,000 per year, and they are reimbursed for some expenses.
Committee members agreed to put the issue on the list to be revisited and suggested Monti look into other avenues that might allow his expenses.
But Monti’s request for the ability to vote on city commission issues in the instance of a stalemate or the lack of a quorum found little support.
“You’re asking to change the structure of the government here. Every government does it differently, but this is a major change to the charter,” said Johnson.
City Commissioner Jean Peelen and Leckie agreed with Johnson that the mayor should not vote with the city commission.
“I’m surprised you’re asking for the ability to vote,” Leckie said.
Johnson cited the mayor’s veto power, which appears at the end of Article 4. “Look at our national system, it’s checks and balances. I’m not in favor of changing that,” he said. “We have a distribution of roles with checks and balances.”
The issue was put to rest, and committee members began scrutinizing the city clerk’s qualifications and duties, although time ran out before committee members finished the clerk review.
The next Holmes Beach Charter Review Committee meeting will be at 9 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 13, at Holmes Beach City Hall, 5801 Marina Drive.
Committee continues search for new member
The Holmes Beach Charter Review Committee continues to search for a fifth member following the resignation of Travis Casper.
One application for appointment was submitted to city hall between the committee’s Jan. 29 and Feb. 6 meetings and is under review.
Committee members are asking any interested Holmes Beach resident to pick up an application for appointment at Holmes Beach City Hall 5801 Marina Drive, so the vacancy can be filled as soon as possible.