Proposed charter changes to come via mail

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Changes to the Fernandina Beach City Charter, the document that outlines how the city is managed, will be put to voters via a mail-in ballot only. That decision was made in a June 23 joint workshop between the City Commission and the Charter Review Committee, which was tasked with reviewing the charter and suggesting changes.

The commissioners sat in their chambers and CRC members attended online, with the exception of their chair, Arlene Filkoff, who was in chambers. The commission approved an ordinance with some proposed changes to the charter at its last meeting. Those 11 changes are to be finalized if approved at a second reading of the ordinance on July 21 and then go to voters for final approval. Those changes can be read at https://bit.ly/2VyC3TZ.

City commissioners said a mail-in ballot would be sent to all voters to allow them a chance to read and focus on the amendments without getting lost in the list of candidates and other issues that may be on the ballot. They agreed charter amendments would be on a separate mail-in ballot than the one being used for the general election and CRC members had no objection. The cost of the mail-in ballot is estimated at $25,760.

Filkoff told the commission the most substantive changes the CRC proposed were that the city could not sell conservation land and could only sell or lease recreational land with a majority vote of the commission and approval of 70% of voters along with how the mayor and vice mayor are elected.

The CRC said they discussed changing the election process in which commission candidates run for a certain group, which are not representative of the address of the candidate and doesn’t mean the candidate would represent a certain area of the city. However, after receiving public feedback, the CRC decided to leave that system in place, and only changed the name “group” to “seat.”

The CRC was to sunset on June 30. City Attorney Tammi Bach said the committee did not have time to review some sections of the charter, but the parts that went un-reviewed would not contain any “substantive” changes. She asked the commission wanted to extend the term of the CRC. The CRC members said they would be willing to continue reviewing the charter. Since the amendments are going to be on mail-in ballots, it would mean that any further amendments recommended by the CRC could be added to that ballot. The commission agreed to extend the CRC until Sept. 30.

The proposed changes can be found here: https://www.fbnewsleader.com/node/2192.