A review of the Anna Maria city charter has thus far resulted in more questions than answers.
Anna Maria’s charter review committee members reviewed three sections of the charter Jan. 23 and highlighted two issues for discussion with city commissioners: Term length for elected officials and a city manager form of government.
Committee member Mark Short, a retired advisory services partner, introduced the idea of a city manager, noting Holmes Beach’s charter review board is exploring the issue.
“Should we be discussing a city manager alternative form of government for the city?” Short asked. “I’m not saying I’m a proponent of it. I’m certainly not saying that at all, but I think, in good faith because of our responsibility here, we should at least have a conversation about it.”
Committee chair Fran Barford, former Anna Maria mayor, said Holmes Beach is exploring the idea because of its size and budget.
“I don’t think we’re there yet,” Barford said. “That’s just my personal opinion, and I’ve thought a lot about it because it would have really helped me and Dan, too.… But I think it’s coming.”
Committee member Sissy Quinn, a preservation activist, said she wants to learn more about a city manager, including the salary the position demands.
Committee member John Chambers, a retired accountant, said the matter could be discussed with city commissioners at a joint meeting at city hall 10 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6.
Short also asked about two-year terms for commissioners and the mayor. He said the first year of a new job is spent learning and the second year should be spent mastering the post, yet city officials instead are occupied with running for re-election.
“There’s two sides to everything,” Chambers responded, “but at the same time, the electorate has the chance to get rid of somebody that is ineffective or uninterested. So, I don’t know.”
Barford said she wants to seek input from commissioners on the topic.
Next, Short said he wants the committee to explore a charter provision allowing city officials to remove someone who violates the Florida code of ethics.
Short said the charter allows someone to remain in office if they’re qualified for the position and attend meetings.
City attorney Becky Vose said a governor can remove an elected official for unethical conduct or criminal acts, but the committee could explore adding such a provision.
Committee members also discussed more narrowly defining the “resident” qualification to run for office.
Chambers said some people who reside in Anna Maria have multiple homes in different cities and states.
Vose advised against changing the definition.
“What matters is what the voters think,” Vose said over speakerphone. “If somebody runs and they only live there for seven months out of the year, they’d be way off-base and I would assume that the voters wouldn’t think very highly of electing them, since they’re not really as invested as somebody who lives there all the time.”
The next regular charter review committee meeting will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13.
The committee is assembled every five years to review the charter, discuss changes and provide the city commission with periodic progress reports.
Charter commissioners are not paid and the committee dissolves once the review is completed.
Wondering what’s in Anna Maria’s charter?
Go online to library.municode.com and enter a search for Anna Maria, Florida, for the charter, as well as the city code of ordinances.