Charter Review Commission sends salary increase and end-of-term limit proposals to County Commissioners | Zoey Fields
The Charter Review Commission voted 8-3 to pass three ballots to the Board of County Commissioners at its third and final meeting on May 31. The County Board of Commissioners plans to put these items on its June 14 agenda.
In accordance with Florida’s charter form of government, if the County Board of Commissioners passes a resolution to advance the proposals, it may direct the Supervisor of Elections to place those items on the ballot for the November general election. , Clay County Public Information Officer Annaleasa Winter said.
If passed, the charter suggestion would put three dots on voters’ ballots in November; the vote to give county commissioners a pay raise, to end term limits for constitutional office holders and the review of term among appointed members of the Charter Review Commission.
The charter voted unanimously on the third point regarding the meeting time review, but three members disagreed on the other two points.
David Theus, a small business consultant and former 2020 congressional candidate in Florida’s 3rd District, was named to the Charter Review Commission by Clay County Commissioner Mike Cella. Theus is one of three founding members who represent Clay County District 1.
Theus, Christine Backscheider and Connie Schoenung each opposed the Board of County Commissioners’ salary increase and term limits in the November ballot.
“The reason why I disagreed with the salary increase is that we linked it to the CPI (consumer price index), which is an increase, each year, in the remuneration of the commissioner “, did he declare.
While some have pushed for the pay increase to be 4-5%, Theus said this year alone the percentage is approaching 8%. A CPI-based increase locks in an ever-growing government, he said.
Theus also noted that voters had previously voted to keep the commissioner’s salary at $37,500 and that if voters want that number, it should be stuck to, he said.
“A commissioner’s salary is billed as a part-time job and several commissioners knew the salary when they were running for office and seemed to agree,” Theus said. “What that would do is guarantee a pay rise for every year they stay on the board.”
Theus said if you think your taxpayers’ money should be increased for councillors’ salaries, then you vote yes. If you believe in less government and less burden on the taxpayer, then you vote no, he said.
The second item that could end up on the ballot is the removal of term limits for elected constitutional officers. Office holders are currently assigned three four-year terms. The Charter Review Commission suggests removing term limits, allowing office holders to hold office for more than 12 years.
In the proposed term limits, the offices of sheriff, real estate appraiser, tax collector, circuit court clerk and election supervisor would be affected.
The reason Theus disagrees on this point is that he thinks current office holders have an advantage because their names and/or photos are on every official letter the taxpayer receives.
For example, he said, when someone renews their license, they make a payment and receive a letter from the county collector. Or, if someone opens a local magazine, they may see an advertisement stating who the county sheriff is.
“I hate that the word ‘fair’ is used in politics,” he said. “But I believe in a local race like this it’s an unfair advantage for the incumbent to be re-elected because he or she gets a pseudo-campaign every time someone in the county gets a official document.”
The point that Theus and all the other members of the Charter Review have agreed on is the meeting time for the Charter Review Commission.
“Typically, it’s reviewed every four years,” Theus said. “But we discussed a lot about whether it could be longer to allow us to do the job better and we all agreed that eight years would be enough.
Theus explained that even with a longer period of time for review members, citizens have three different ways to amend the charter.
Citizens have the option of approaching the Board of County Commissioners to indicate any changes they wish to make, they can apply for the charter every four years or they can take the ‘citizen’s initiative’ route.
Citizens’ Initiative, under Florida law, requires that a petition to change a city charter have the signatures of 10% of registered voters in the last previous municipal general election. A reasonable interpretation of the law is that signatures are valid for two years, Attorney General Robert Butterworth wrote in an email learn about the process.
“I think the citizens’ argument on this is going to be that we’re taking away their right to amend the charter,” Theus said. “But there are two other ways to do it besides polling.”
County Attorney Courtney Grimm briefed the commission on the next steps in the proceedings, according to the May 31 court filing.
Since the commission has approved the three questions for ballot and final report, staff will present them at the June 14 County Board of Commissioners meeting. A resolution will be presented to them. They will acknowledge receipt of the report, then take it and direct the Election Supervisor to place the proposed amendments to the charter on the ballot for the 2022 general election. The next general election will be November 8, 2022.