Commission unveils five charter amendments to council

By Nick Blank
Posted 12/12/18

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Commission unveils five charter amendments to council

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Council members heard five amendments from the city’s charter review commission that would affect the city manager’s responsibilities and clean up language in the charter.

The city’s Charter Review Commission met four times since September and brought council members five potential amendments to four sections of the charter. Voters have the final say in early April.

Regarding the city manager, one amendment would increase the city manager’s spending authority from $15,000 to $25,000, which was previously put on the ballot, but residents didn’t approve it.

Charter Review Committee Chairman and former mayor Bob Page said the council wouldn’t remove the requirement that the money had to be an approved budget item.

“We think it is important for efficiency and the operation of government that you increase the spending authority of the city manager,” Page said.

In section four of the charter, a proposed amendment would allow the city to seek an attorney that doesn’t live or maintain an office within city limits when necessary.

“We thought there might be an occurrence where you might want a larger law firm that might not even be in the city or outside of Clay County,” Page said.

Another amendment in section four would see the city manager conduct the city clerk’s annual review instead of the city council. The city clerk is appointed by council members.

“As the administrative direction of the city clerk is with the city manager, we thought it was more appropriate that the city manager provide the evaluation of that person than try to have that done by the council,” Page added.

Another amendment would clearly define the scope of city manager’s emergency powers for specific situations such as operational disasters, public health and safety disasters, and that city council would review emergency expenses, “within a reasonable time thereafter.” The last amendment would acknowledge state and federal nondiscrimination laws in the charter.

Council members passed all five amendments, which will be drafted in an ordinance and needed to be approved in two readings at later council meetings before placement on the ballot.

In other business, the city received a $6,120,600 loan from the state revolving loan fund for wastewater plant improvements.

Assistant City Manager and Public Works Director Mike Null said the loan was for the project’s first phase, building infrastructure for reclaimed water distribution at the plant within two years.

“Over the last two years, we put infrastructure in the system to use reclaimed water for irrigation purposes in the different subdivisions, so this will be the last step for the plant infrastructure to be able to get the water to those customers,” Null said.

He said phase two is basically building a new plant to improve treatment and increase capacity. The next phase would consolidate the two plants into one, with updated piping and collection system improvements. Null said he expects the entire process to take five to six years.

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