The November 25 Commission meeting managed to pack a few surprises into what initially appeared to be a light (if not boring) pre-holiday agenda.
Seidel Will Not Run in 2020
First, Commissioner Greg Seidel announced he will not seek re-election in 2020, citing work and family issues. That leaves Seats 1 and 2 up for grabs. Candidate qualifying begins December 3, 2019.
Commission Votes to Approve Contract for $6 Million TDT Grant
The motion to approve the contract for the Orange County Tourist Development Tax (TDT) grant was problematic in the absence of a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) for the Canopy project, which will come to the Commission in January 2020.
Commissioner Carolyn Cooper voiced her concern that signing the contract before knowing the GMP would tie the City’s hands. According to City Attorney Kurt Ardaman, the grant application specifies the location of both the library and the events center and prevents the City from making “substantial changes,” even though such changes may be necessary to make the project affordable if the GMP comes in higher than expected.
Commissioner Todd Weaver moved to table the motion until after the Commission has discussed the GMP in January. Cooper seconded the motion, but the motion to table failed on a 3-2 vote. And even though there was no deadline requiring the contract be signed before the GMP comes in, the Commission voted 3-2 to approve the contract for the TDT grant, again with Weaver and Cooper dissenting.
City Manager Performance Review
The Commission then engaged in the annual ritual of City Manager Randy Knight’s performance review. The Commission voted 4-1 to award a 2 percent bonus in lieu of a salary increase. The dissenting vote was cast by Commissioner Cooper. She states her reasons in this video: click this link to view.
With regard to the mistaken information in the TDT grant application cited by Cooper, Communications Director Clarissa Howard stated that when the mistake on the application was discovered, the period for online submission of TDT/ARC grant applications had closed. “The only opportunity to correct the mistake was during the verbal presentation before the TDT/ARC Board,” said Howard, “and the Board cut Mayor Leary’s presentation short, so he had no opportunity to correct the mistake.”
Voters Will Decide Charter Amendments
The Commission then took up the matter of the Charter amendments that will be put to the voters on the March 17, 2020, ballot. On 3-2 votes, with Sprinkel and Leary dissenting, three of the more controversial issues will appear on the ballot for the voters to decide.
Annual Salaries for Mayor & Commissioners
Voters will have the opportunity to raise annual salaries for the first time in many years to $12,600 for Commissioners and $15,000 for the Mayor. The hope is that this will provide the opportunity for a more diverse pool of qualified candidates to run for elected office.
Board Appointments Would No Longer Be Made Only by the Mayor
Appointments to City advisory boards and ad hoc committees will be distributed among the Mayor and Commissioners. The amendment states in part, “. . . each board and ad hoc committee shall have seven members . . . . Three of the seven members of the board or committee shall be appointed by the Mayor and such members shall serve at the Mayor’s pleasure. Each of the four City Commissioners shall appoint one of the seven members of the board or committee and such members shall serve at the pleasure of the City Commissioner holding the Commission seat that appointed the member.”
Video Conferencing Would Be Provided for Absent Commissioners to Vote
This amendment states in part, “Voting on ordinances and resolutions shall be by roll call vote of the Commissioners and the Mayor. . . . The affirmative vote of three members of the City Commission who are physically present at the meeting, either in person or through the use of video-conferencing, shall be necessary to adopt any ordinance or resolution. The use of video-conferencing by an individual member of the City Commission shall be limited to not more than three times per calendar year and shall be subject to approval pursuant to and governed by rules and procedures adopted by the City Commission.”
Commissioners have had difficulty teleconferencing in to meetings. Adoption of this amendment will require the City to acquire video conferencing equipment, which it does not currently have.
Stronger Language for Non-Partisan City Elections
The amendment states in part, “Upon qualifying for office through the election, a candidate for the office of city commissioner or mayor shall not: (1) Campaign and/or publicly represent or advertise herself or himself as a member of any political party; or (2) Accept campaign contributions from any political party.
(b) A candidate for commissioner or mayor who violates a provision of this section shall be liable for a civil fine of up to $1,000 per violation. The City Commission shall adopt an ordinance describing the procedure to determine violations, provide due process, and set fines.”
The issue of donations from partisan Political Action Committees (PACs) came up, but no prohibition could be included in the Charter because it would conflict with federal law.
The full text of these and other amendments can be found here: https://winterpark.novusagenda.com/agendapublic/CoverSheet.aspx?ItemID=1498&MeetingID=195
Scroll to the bottom of the Cover Sheet and click on the tiny blue line that says “Revised Ordinance.”
These and other amendments to the City Charter will appear on the ballot for voter decision in the March 17, 2020, election.