County commission to hold charter workshop

Manatee County is holding a workshop to discuss the pros and cons of becoming a charter county.

Like a charter city or school, a charter county is guided by a document that would confer powers, duties or privileges on the county.

Twenty of the 67 counties in Florida are charter counties.

The Florida Constitution states that charter counties “shall have all powers of local self-government not inconsistent with general law…” and that non-charter counties “shall have the power of self-government as is provided by general or special law.”

Supporters say a charter provides more freedom from state restrictions, while opponents fear it reduces home rule for municipalities.

At a May Bradenton Beach commission meeting, Vice Mayor John Chappie, a former county commissioner, said the county will be hosting a workshop to discuss the matter and he thinks it would be in the interest of the city for its attorney to attend and report back to the city commission.

City attorney Ricinda Perry agreed. She said charter counties restrict home rule through a tightened county approval process.

“As your attorney, I would hate to see us become a charter county,” Perry said May 18. “I don’t want to lose our identity and become a puppet to the county.”

However, former Bradenton Beach Mayor Katie Pierola, an advocate for the charter, said June 9, “If any county needs a charter, it’s this one. The commissioners are getting away with murder using the state constitution. If this passes, the people of this county will be able to write the charter, not the commissioners.”

The charter government workshop will be at 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 14, in the Longboat Key Room at the Bradenton Area Convention Center, 1 Haben Blvd., Palmetto.

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