Charter Review – Call to Action – Deadline August 26, 2011
Posted by Iris on August 20, 2011 · 2 Comments
Back in June, the County began public meetings about its ongoing Charter Review. See my post
here. If you recall – the County Charter is its ‘constitution’ and describes Home Rule. There are 20 Home Rule or Charter Counties in Florida. Palm Beach County does not have a formalized Charter Review process, and this is the first comprehensive review to have taken place.
The Charter and the county’s charter review website can be found here. While there are a few changes that the Commissioners would like, citizens can input their own suggestions via the County Website. Suggestions are limited to 300 words per suggestion. Here is a link to the survey page. You can make as many submissions as you like.
Personally, I am not in favor of a few changes favored by several of the Commissioners – a) changing the county commission makeup to include a few at-large commission districts, and b) to have non-partisan elections for County Commissioners.
I have a few changes that I am submitting in order to make for better governance without bogging down the document or specifying so much detail that the slim charter becomes unmanageable. You may have others. If you would like to submit any of the ones listed below, just click on the [copy] to the right of the suggestion you would like to copy, and then cut/paste from the text that comes up and submit that to the survey link above. Each of my submissions are shorter than the 300-word limit per submission.
Friday, August 26, is the last date on which submissions will be accepted on the county website.
Review all boards and advisory committees every four years
Objective: Formalizes a review process to remove unnecessary, redundant, or obsolete Boards and Advisory Committees.
Precedent and wording from Broward County Section 2.09 F
The County Commission shall adopt procedures to provide for the review of the performance of all Boards, Committees, Authorities and Agencies at least once every four (4) years. As part of its review of the respective Board, Committee, Authority or Agency, the County Commission shall determine, by resolution, that the applicable Board, Committee, Authority, or Agency is needed to serve the public interest, and the cost of its existence to the citizens and taxpayers is justified. The review provision shall not apply to any Board, Committee, Authority, or Agency established by this Charter.
County Version of Smartcap (this is a TAB proposal)
Objective: Limits spending growth to population growth and inflation formula
Reference: State Revenue Limitation (CS/SJR958). The yearly adjustment factor is calculated based on the previous year’s cap, not revenue collected. This avoids the problem encountered by Colorado “TABOR” which caused excessive reductions in spending during an economic downturn.
Precedent: Brevard 22.214.171.124(a): http://www.brevardcounty.us/countycharter/charter-article2.cfm – s29 and City of Jacksonville Sections 14.08/14.09: http://library.municode.com/index.aspx?clientID=12174&stateID=9&statename=Florida
Suggested wording: 1) For each budget year, county revenue collected is limited by the state computed adjustment factor defined in CS/SJR958. 2) Exemptions are allowed for unfunded mandates and certain other classifications of spending. 3) Emergency override is permitted with a super majority vote of the BCC.
Periodic Mandatory Review of the Charter by Independent Commission
Objective: Formalize the review of County Charter, instead of the ad hoc approach being taken during the current county review.
Precedent: 16 of the 20 Home Rule counties have a formal appointed* Charter Review Commission specified in their Charters. Period ranges from every 4 years to every 10 years. Size of Commission ranges from 10-15 individuals, with majority or 2/3 vote required to bring an amendment forward, and most scheduled to coincide with General Elections. *Sarasota County has an elected Charter Review Commission
Recommendation: Modify the charter to require a Formal review, by appointed review commission consisting of citizens, with an odd number of commissioners and majority vote, every 8 years, with results to coincide with a general election.
Objective: Transparency and Accountability
Precedent: Charlotte County Sec 2.2.J
Text from Charlotte County:
The county commission shall adopt and review annually, prior to April first of each year, a debt policy to guide the issuance and management of debt. The debt policy shall be integrated with other financial policies, operating and capital budgets. Adherence to a debt policy helps ensure that debt is issued and managed prudently in order to maintain a sound fiscal position and protect credit quality. Elements to be addressed in the debt policy shall include:
(1)The purposes for which debt may be issued.
(2)Legal debt limitations, or limitations established by policy (maximum amount of debt that should be outstanding at one time).
(3)The types of debt permitted to be issued and criteria for issuance of various types of debt.
(4)Structural features of debt (maturity, debt service structure).
(6)Placement methods and procedures.
State of the County Quarterly/Annual Report
Objective: Transparency and Accountability by the administrative branch of the county
Precedent: Broward County 1.04 L: http://library.municode.com/index.aspx?clientID=10288&stateID=9&statename=Florida
Lee County: 2.3.A.1.(a): http://library.municode.com/index.aspx?nomobile=1&clientid=10131
The County Commission shall require and the public is entitled to have access to a Management Report published by the County Administrator, and made public on a quarterly basis, detailing the performance of the County government offices, divisions and departments. The Management Report shall include, but not be limited to, a report on the receipt and expenditure of County funds by each County office, division and department, and a report of the expected and actual performance* of the activities of each County office, division and department.
*Performance shall include measurements (benchmark metrics like head counts against peer counties) in key areas/contingent liabilities for long term union contracts and capital projects/annual market comparison of salaries and benefits (peer counties and private sector), other issues.