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Date of Issue: September 15, 2005

Holmes Beach moving forward with referendum

The Holmes Beach City Commission is committed to moving forward with the nonbinding referendum allowing residents to vote on whether the city should undertake a study on consolidating the three Island cities.

Commissioner Roger Lutz suggested the city continue with its plans despite what the other cities decide. If voters say "Yes," he suggested, the city treasurer could do an initial assessment of the numbers to see if consolidation would benefit Holmes Beach, the largest of the three Island cities.

Some concern was raised that this was not a citizen driven initiative, but Commissioner Pat Morton stated it would provide an opportunity to let the voters have their say and put the issue "to bed" once and for all.

The motion to adopt the referendum language was approved 4-1 with Commissioner Rich Bohnenberger dissenting. Bohnenberger disagreed with the way the draft resolution is written, stating that the commission has not yet held meetings with public comment or discussed the type of government structure and other issues.

Commissioner Don Maloney said he was pleased Holmes Beach is taking the lead and asked to revive interest in asking for voters to also decide if they would like the city to hire a city manager. He noted that the commission has had several presentations regarding the benefits a city manager could provide and asked for a nonbinding referendum to see how much citizen support there might be.

Commission Chair Sandy Haas-Martens said the subject would have to be placed on a work session agenda for future discussion, effectively shutting down the request.

Holmes Beach Mayor Carol Whitmore chimed in that given the circumstances, "We may not have time for the next ballot."

The Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Office indicated the deadline for ballot initiatives for Holmes Beach was Sept. 6.

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