MADEIRA BEACH – In a workshop session held Sept. 26, the City Commission decided to move the public comment portion of commission meetings from the beginning to the end of the agenda.
“This needs to be at the end,” said Madeira Beach Vice Mayor John Douthirt. The reason, he said, is that “we want to get residents more involved. And for that to happen, they need to sit through the meeting and hear what’s going on.”
“Sounds reasonable,” said Mayor Maggi Black.
Commissioner Nancy Hodges said she was willing to move the public comments to the end and give it a try. But she said recent meetings have been lengthy. “People have something to say, and they don’t want to sit through a three- or four-hour meeting,” Hodges said.
The commission agreed by consensus to move public comments to last on the agenda, and, in Hodges’ words, “see how it works.”
Commissioner Terry Lister was absent from the meeting.
Department and section heads of city departments will now give the commissioners their goals and objectives for the coming year, as well as past accomplishments, during budget hearings. Based on that information, the commission will then decide on the funding.
“They tell us their goals and objectives, and that’s how we build our budget,” said Black.
Finance Director Walter Pierce said the process is similar to one used by Hillsborough County. There, department heads give accomplishments for the previous year, which gives proof that what the departments are doing is right, Pierce said.
They tell where they were, where they’re going and what they need financially to get there, he said.
City Attorney Erica Augello said the commissioners cannot tell the departments what to do.
“The commission shouldn’t be planning anything as far as goals and objectives,” she said. “That should be done by city management. It is an administrative function, not a legislative function, and you are a legislative body.
“Telling the departments to set goals and bring them to you is not in the purview of this commission,” the attorney cautioned.
Hodges agreed, saying, “We’re going to set the goals and that’s not the way it should be.”
But Douthirt, who brought up the idea, said, “We are not setting the goals. The departments would come to us, and say, ‘Here are our goals, and here’s the money we need to accomplish them.’”
The process “would help us decide what to fund or not,” Douthirt said.
Oakley said, “I like it. All departments are together. Everybody’s in the same format.”
“Overall, this is a good idea to go ahead and move forward with,” said Black.
In the dark
The City Center Complex had considerable water damage from Hurricane Irma, Douthirt said.
City Hall was also without power for about a week, and that left city government, as well as residents, in the dark.
“People could not get in touch with anybody here. The phones were not answered, people could not get any information,” Douthirt said.
Douthirt said City Hall needs a generator “so we keep the city up and running in case something like this happens again.”
Public Works Director Dave Marsicano said the building is designed for a generator and he would look at the building plans to get the details.
“I will take that direction, and move forward to get more information and bring that back to you,” Marsicano said.