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Date of Issue: September 08, 2005

Consolidation talks scheduled for Sept. 15 in Bradenton Beach

Language that could allow voters to decide on consolidating all three cities on Anna Maria Island will be discussed and a decision on whether or not to place the matter before Bradenton Beach voters this fall should be determined by city commissioners Sept. 15.

Mayor John Chappie said that City Attorney Ricinda Perry was working on ballot language in concert with attorneys for Anna Maria and Holmes Beach and should have wording prepared by the end of this week.

Bradenton Beach city commissioners had agreed in concept to placing the matter on the Nov. 8 ballot earlier this summer, Chappie said, adding that the controversy that has embroiled in the other two Island cities has not been evident in the southernmost municipality.

"It's not as controversial here," he said.

Whether or not the matter will appear on the ballot in Bradenton Beach may be moot, though.

Anna Maria city commissioners have deadlocked on placing the issue before voters there last month and, with one city vetoing the matter, the consolidation issue Islandwide is dead, according to the three Island mayors at a recent Barrier Island Elected Officials meeting. A special Anna Maria City Commission meeting was scheduled at presstime Tuesday night, Sept. 6, to reconsider the matter, although the "swing vote" on that body, Commissioner Duke Miller, had indicated he did not favor putting the question to a vote.

The ballot language, which would be non-binding, asks voters if the matter should be researched further. Many more votes by electors, hearings and related decisions would be needed before any Islandwide municipality became a reality.

Proponents of the consolidation drive cite cost savings if the three cities were united. Opponents fear the individual character of each of the communities would be lost.