The High Springs City Commission debated which amendments would be included on the ballot for an up or down vote by the electorate. Several amendments were approved unanimously, while two were rejected, and will not be on the ballot.
Currently, city commissioners cannot be employed by the city until a year after their term expires. An amendment will be on the ballot disqualifying commissioners from working as contractual employees for the same time period.
The city manager’s duties could be further clarified by an amendment to be put to vote, including giving the individual the power to sign contracts for the city.
If one of the proposed amendments passes, the city commission will be required to review the charter every eight years. This means the charter would have to be reviewed in March 2016.
Mayor Larry Travis said this does not mean the city must wait eight years before reviewing the charter. He explained that under the proposed amendment, the city is still permitted to review the charter at any time.
“The commission is trying to be proactive,” he said, “to do some things with our charter that are more in line with where we are today.”
The commission is also putting to vote an ordinance requiring commission candidates to run for specific seats. Commissioner Eric May pointed out that every other city in Alachua County uses a designated seat system.
High Springs commission candidates run for a general seat. If two seats are open, the top two vote getters win the seats, with the individual receiving the most votes claiming the seat with the longest term.
The final unanimous decision approved the consideration of an amendment allowing citizens to initiate petitions to propose city ordinances. Under the amendment, citizens gathering 50 electors of the city can bring a petition to the city commission for consideration.
Also approved was an amendment adding a preamble to the city charter, expressing the purpose of the municipal government to serve the governed, and not the governing. Mayor Travis voted against the amendment.
The vote was split on an amendment requiring the commission to approve the appointments of certain public safety officials. Currently, these officials are hired by the city manager without commission approval.
Travis and Commissioner Sue Weller voted against the amendment, speaking in support of the city manager form of government High Springs has. The amendment will not be on the ballot.
An amendment asking for the limitation of municipal borrowing to 7 percent of the city’s property value also did not meet commission approval. May urged his fellow commissioners to approve the amendment.
“I want some sort of a debt ceiling in place,” he said. “I think it sends a good message to the voters that we’re trying to be responsible fiscally.”
He further explained that the ordinance would still allow the commission to ask to borrow more money if it became necessary.
However, Travis expressed concern that the amendment would be limiting in case of an emergency, and Weller said she did not feel comfortable putting the amendment to vote without more detail.
Travis and Weller voted against the proposition.
Passing of the amendment would have allowed the government to borrow $780,000 in the upcoming year without special approval.
Vice Mayor Byran Williams was not present at the meeting.
The approved amendments will be on the ballot for the general Nov. 8 election.Add a comment