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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

City manager issue appears doomed

An effort by Holmes Beach City Commissioner Don Maloney to get the city commission to let voters decide the city manager issue in the Aug. 31 primary appears headed for failure.

Maloney wants the city commission at its May 11 meeting to approve - or at least discuss - a motion to have the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Office put the question of whether or not the city should have a city manager on the August ballot. He wants the voters to approve or reject the issue.

But he's not likely to get a second.

Commission Chairperson Sandy Haas-Martens said she's not seen any "groundswell of residents who want to vote on it." The people she's talked to have indicated they don't believe the city needs a manager.

If enough people want a city manager, they should start writing a petition and present it to the city commission, she indicated.

Commissioner Rich Bohnenberger also said he'd vote against the motion. Two years ago, he said, the city hired a consultant to review such a recommendation from the city's charter review committee. The consultant said the city didn't need a manager, said Bohnenberger, "so, my feelings are that's it's still no."

Commissioners Roger Lutz and Patrick Morton have also said they would vote against asking the SOE office to put the question on the August ballot.

But Maloney said he would bring the agenda item up anyway. "I'm looking for reasons why they are against allowing the voters to decide," he said.

"It's interesting to note that in Palmetto, the mayor and city commissioners are in favor of a city manager, but won't bring it to a vote because they think the voters would turn it down," observed Maloney. "In Holmes Beach, it's the exact opposite where city commissioners don't want [the issue] on the ballot for fear the voters will approve."

While not a voting member of the commission, Mayor Carol Whitmore has said previously she favors a city manager.

The cost of a city manager for a city the size of Holmes Beach would be approximately $90,000 annually, according to information from the Florida League of Cities.

The FLC has said that 90 percent of all Florida cities with a population between 5,000 and 150,000 have a city manager form of government.