Bradenton Beach gives ballot amendments tentative OK

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Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie, left, thanks Randy Milton Aug. 16 for his work on the ad hoc charter review committee member. Islander Photo: ChrisAnn Silver Esformes

The Bradenton Beach ad hoc charter review committee completed its task.

And the city commission approved the first reading of an ordinance Aug. 16 to place seven charter amendment questions on the Nov. 6 municipal ballot.

The first reading of the ordinance passed 4-1, with Commissioner Randy White voting “nay.”

The committee reviewed the charter for consistency with amendments approved by voters in 2017, as well as amendments proposed for the November ballot by the political action committee Keep Our Residential Neighborhoods.

In June, the city blocked four amendments proposed by KORN, citing insufficiencies.

However, KORN founders Reed Mapes and John Metz are suing the city to get their proposed ballot questions before voters. Considering the delays imposed by the city, the KORN charter proposals will require the city schedule and pay for a special election.

The city’s charter amendment 1 proposes “at-large voting for all elected officials, including mayor and four neighborhood ward commissioners.”

If the ordinance passes final reading and is approved by the electorate, new wards — close in size and location to the previous wards voted out in 2017 — would be established based on an updated survey from the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Office.

Four wards of equal blocks of voters were first established in 1976.

The city commission is now decided citywide — without wards. A charter amendment was approved by 55 percent of voters in 2017, eliminating the four wards.

At the Aug. 16 meeting, White questioned the committee’s recommended return to ward-based voting, since it goes against the 2017 vote. He asked, “Is it right for the smaller number to trump the larger number?” He added, “Because essentially that’s what’s going on here.”

Proposed charter amendment 2 asks, “Should the city revise its charter to clarify residency and require candidates for elective office to be registered voters permanently residing in the city of Bradenton Beach?”

The charter currently does not have a definition of residency.

Proposed charter amendment 3 asks, “Should the city amend its charter to expressly provide for a balanced commission form of government, with the mayor and commissioners all having equal executive and legislative powers?”

According to the CRC report, the current form of government is not “expressly” written in the charter.

An amendment proposed by KORN recommends the city change to a city manager-based form of government.

The ballot question for proposed charter amendment 4 asks if the city commission shall “exclusively” retain hiring and firing powers for city staff.

Proposed charter amendment 5 “clarifies, renumbers and reorganizes” the articles in the charter regarding provisions for elected officials, qualifications and election procedures.

It incorporates language from other sections, including the return to four wards, residency requirements and filling vacancies on the commission.

Proposed charter amendment 6 considers the filling of vacancies on the dais. If approved, this section would add a resign-to-run provision, allowing the commission to appoint someone to fill a spot that would remain vacant more than six months until the next general election, when a successor would be elected.

KORN is proposing a charter amendment requiring all vacancies be filled by election.

The last proposed ballot question, charter amendment 7, would clarify the title of the charter article dealing with “ordinances” to include the words “initiatives” and “referendums,” since the article establishes requirements for all three.

The final public hearing and vote will be held at a special city commission meeting at 9 a.m. Monday, Aug. 27, at city hall, 107 Gulf Drive N.

If approved, the city must submit the ballot questions to the SOE by Aug. 28 to be placed on the Nov. 6 ballot.

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