PORT ST. LUCIE— The city charter, an important framework that sets rules and regulations for local government, needs an update, according to City Attorney Jim Stokes. Voters are being asked to approve a series of changes on Nov. 8.
The five proposed charter amendments are:
Filling a City Council vacancy of at least 12 months, instead of six, by a single special election
Eliminating City Council roll-call voting and using majority consensus instead
Having City Council establish rules for each advisory board rather than the boards creating their own rules
Advertising the date and time of all ordinance public hearings in print or online as allowed by state law, at least 10 days in advance
Designating the Planning and Zoning Board as the city’s Local Planning Agency
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The majority of the proposed changes are housekeeping items, needed to align with state laws, Stokes said.
When former Mayor Greg Oravec resigned in July 2021 to become village manager in Islamorada in the Florida Keys, it triggered the need for a special election to fill his unexpired term.
That's one reason behind the need for some of the changes.
Six months, for example, is a very short period of time to put together a special election, city officials said, and it's expensive. The last one cost $600,000, according to spokesperson Sarah Prohaska.
"We're trying to be a little bit more responsible with taxpayer money," Stokes said.
The charter changes stemmed from City Council's winter retreat. This will be the first time since 2002 that the city is asking voters to make changes without first implementing a charter review committee.
"It was a two year process for that charter review committee to hash through the entire charter and decide what they wanted to change," Stokes said. "This time, we had identified a few areas that were kind of critically needed to be updated."
In the future a charter review committee will likely be formed, according to Stokes, but when is unclear.
Olivia McKelvey is TCPalm's watchdog reporter for St. Lucie County. You can reach her at email@example.com, 772-521-4380 and on Twitter @olivia_mckelvey.
This article originally appeared on Treasure Coast Newspapers: Port St. Lucie voters to decide on city charter changes Nov. 8