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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Ballot issues brewing in Bradenton Beach

Some sweeping changes in Bradenton Beach governance may be proposed to voters on the Aug. 31 primary election ballot.

Bradenton Beach city commissioners have tentatively approved asking voters whether or not they wish to retain the services of a city manager as chief administrator of the city.

The manager, as proposed by City Attorney Ralf Brookes in draft ballot language, would be hired or fired by three members of the city commission. He or she "shall be the chief administrator of the city and shall be responsible to the city commission for the proper administration of all affairs of the city."

The manager would also "supervise all governmental and proprietary functions of the city and all departments and divisions except the office of the city accountant, city auditor and the city attorney (who shall report directly to the city commission) and as otherwise provided in this charter."

The manager would create the budget for the city annually and coordinate finances for the city.

He or she would also "appoint, remove, discipline and administer the compensation and salaries for employees of the city, except for the offices of the city accountant, city auditors and the city attorney, and chief of police who shall report directly to the city commission, subject to the provisions of this charter and in accordance with the ordinances and personnel rules and regulations of the city, and applicable state or federal law," according to Brookes' draft language.

City commissioners have also agreed to break out the position of city treasurer, currently under the auspices of the city clerk's office, into a separate department.

And the city commissioners themselves would, by a "super majority" of at least four of the five members, decide on matters dealing with land use: comprehensive plan amendments, rezoning, variances, special exceptions and street vacations.

By deciding on variances - currently under the sole purview of the city's board of adjustment - that body's responsibility may become advisory in nature under the proposed charter changes, if passed by voters.

City commissioners are also looking into changing the boundaries of the city's four wards, and are awaiting detailed voter information from the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Office.

The next meeting of the commission to discuss ballot issues will at 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 26.