The City Council should not be able to override a referendum, voted on by the people.
By John Brady
According to local news reports, the city of Palm Coast is again looking at a review of the charter. I think the information provided so far on the process is inaccurate. The two guiding documents are Florida State Statutes, specifically Chapter 166 and the Palm Coast City Charter.
Florida State Statutes Section 166.031 deals with charter amendments. Paragraph (1) does allow for "the governing body (City Council) of the municipality shall place the proposed amendment contained in the ordinance or petition to a vote of the electors at the next general election held within the municipality or at a special election called for such purpose.”
Interestingly, paragraph 3 states, “A municipality may amend its charter pursuant to this section notwithstanding any charter provisions to the contrary.”
The City Charter in Section 10 states, “A five-member Charter Review Committee shall be appointed. Each district council member shall appoint one member from his or her district, and the Mayor shall appoint one member at large.”
Contrary to the information provided in news reports, it seems based on a reading of the above references, City Council "may" propose amendments subject to citizen approval. A Charter Review is covered by the City Charter and "shall" dictate appointments of citizens.
Review by council would only consist of passing amendments which would need to be approved at the next general election.
In a related manner, there is no provision for compensation to be paid and any attempt to provide for compensation should be rejected.
Although Mayor Milissa Holland dismissed the idea of citizens having the accumulated knowledge of the workings of municipal government, this lack of knowledge may instead be an asset since these citizens would not be encumbered the “way things have always be done" and would certainly bring a fresh approach to dealing with the ever-changing demographics of Palm Coast.
The City Charter needs to be reviewed by citizens — and soon.
John Brady is a resident of Palm Coast. He ran for mayor in 2016.