SEMINOLE — The Charter Review Committee presented four proposed charter amendments to the Seminole City Council at its May 14 meeting. Councilors directed staff to prepare the ordinances, changing language where necessary, to be placed on the Nov. 5 ballot.
Charter Amendment No. 01, Providing Expanded Residency Requirement for Council Members Prior to Qualifying and Retention While in Office, says all council members must be residents of Seminole for the 12 months immediately prior to qualifying and must retain residency throughout their term in office.
Berny Jacques, the committee’s vice chair, said. “The current charter says someone has to be a resident for one year before taking office, but wasn’t specific to when that year would be.”
Councilor Chris Burke said he “didn’t care for the title,” adding that the word “expanded” was incorrect.
“We’re not really expanding it, we’re just defining it,” he said.
City attorney Jay Daigneault disagreed.
“I think it does expand the residency requirement. The residency requirement stops at qualifying and does not extend thereafter … into the term of office,” he said.
Charter Amendment No. 02, Amending Meeting Date at Which Vice-Mayor Shall be Annually Elected, amends the charter so that the vice mayor must be annually elected at the second business meeting in November each year.
This change “add[s] consistency to the charter,” Jacques said.
Charter Amendment No. 03, Deleting Language Allowing Assignment of Duties to City Clerk by the City Council, deletes language providing the city council with the ability to assign duties to the city clerk.
“The city clerk should be directed by the city manager,” Jacques said, and the current language is “an inconsistency that we want to make sure is cleared up.”
Mayor Leslie Waters agreed, saying she didn’t think it was appropriate for councilors to give instructions to the city clerk.
Councilor Thom Barnhorn said he “had a little bit of sleeplessness” over the proposed amendment change. If the charter removes the council’s authority over the city clerk, this includes the clerical support the clerk currently provides councilors in their official capacity.
“We do not have clerical support if it’s taken away,” he said.
Daigneault was also concerned that the proposed change “can be construed as being in conflict with [section] 3.06 [of the charter.]”
He suggested the matter be discussed further in a workshop.
Waters had concerns about moving the amendment forward without clarification.
“It needs to be clear cut so we are not accused of breaking the charter,” she said. “I don’t think this is clear enough.”
City Manager Ann Toney-Deal said there would be two additional opportunities for councilors to review the language of the charter amendments.
Charter Amendment No. 04, Establishing the Charter Review Committee’s Appointment Process, establishes that the council will pass a resolution establishing the procedure in which they will appoint members to the Charter Review Committee at the meeting prior to the appointment.
Jacques said there was “confusion” over appointments to the 2019 Charter Review Committee.
“This basically clears up the process in which to appoint members of our committee,” he said, adding that the change will “minimize any further confusion, controversy or fanfare.”