2021 … Island Thoughts and Changes

We’re all living in an island or have been for the past year. I’m thinking about the second shot of Pfizer Vaccine received today and a conversation with a retired client. She’s been “locked down” for the past year and I was surprised by the level of isolation. At the same time, she mentioned several more relatives moving to the area…all from New York. The way we’ve been dealing with Coronavirus is far different in Fernandina, when compared to somewhere more populated, but we’re seeing exposure from tourism. Looking forward to having dinner with friends already vaccinated….I’ve been doing that for the entire year. Wear a mask, use common sense and spend a few dollars with a local business….seemed reasonable. I don’t have underlying conditions and am in my 50’s, but the cost was higher to stay at home, if you average the impact to all Americans.

So much changed in 2020!

Speaking of New York, we have an unprecedented migration of people into Nassau County, FL from Nassau County, NY and other surrounding states. Taxes are lower, cost of living seems lower, the weather is far better, we don’t have estate taxes and we probably have a much higher percentage of immunized vulnerable population. I’ve been watching homes sell in days and multiple competitive offers on a single home. In a normal market, this is an occasional thing. Now, the norm is multiple offers and offers sometimes tens of thousands above list price. It won’t last, but with low inventory and more people pouring into the area, I can’t see a visible reason for an end to the change. Is this based on the pandemic or just an acceleration of something we would see anyway?

An odd “vote by mail only” ballot deadline passed on the 13th. I’m unimpressed with the number of charter changes and wording of several….and the 20% turnout. Hardly representative, I was the only one voting in my household. Three of us tossed the ballot, assuming it was a sample ballot similar to the kind we see in a normal election year and assuming, mistakenly, there would also be voting on Election Day. I hope this is the only time we see a ballot only by mail. Consider a 20% turnout when 100% of the registered voters received a ballot. I also have an concern with words like never, expanding referendums and allowing so many people to request investigations. The last item discussing consistency with state….. I would feel more comfortable simply noting language will be changed for consistency, but the meaning of the charter or items changed will not change. “…and revise certain provisions to be consistent with state law…” Does the word “and” create a separate change and which provisions?

Almost 80% of registered voters failed to fill out a postage paid vote by mail ballot.

____________________

2021 Mail Ballot Election Results: 

Question No. 1
Should the Fernandina Beach City Charter be amended to change the word “groups” to “seats” to be more clear that City Commissioners do not serve districts but are elected at large for one seat? – APPROVED

Question No. 2
Should the Fernandina Beach City Charter be amended to provide that City Commissioners must complete annual performance evaluations for Charter Officers, and that City Commissioners who directly interfere in administrative duties of City employees may be subject to sanctions by the City Commission and forfeiture of their Commission seat after a public hearing? – APPROVED

Question No. 3
Should the Fernandina Beach City Charter be amended to provide that a City Commissioner convicted of a felony, is absent from 3 regular meetings in a year or violates the Florida Code of Ethics for Public Officers is suspended from office pending a hearing that can result with the accused Commissioner forfeiting their Commission seat, and that the City Commission fills vacancies on the Commission by appointment? – APPROVED

Question No. 4
Should the Fernandina Beach City Charter be amended to provide for a binding election by the voters for Mayor instead of the current non-binding straw ballot election of Mayor and appointment by City Commission? – APPROVED

Question No. 5
Should the Fernandina Beach City Charter be amended to provide that the Mayor is responsible for ensuring that City Commissioners complete annual performance evaluations for all Charter Officers (City Manager, City Attorney, City Clerk)? 
– APPROVED

Question No. 6
Should the Fernandina Beach City Charter be amended to allow a City Commissioner suffering from a serious medical condition to use media technology to attend and cast votes at City Commission meetings? – APPROVED

Question No. 7
Should the Fernandina Beach City Charter be amended to provide that the City Commission must consider more than one City Manager candidate for hire, that the City Manager must have prior management experience and be a member of a professional organization for city managers, and that the City Manager has 90 days to become a resident of the City after taking the oath of office? – APPROVED

Question No. 8
Should the Fernandina Beach City Charter be amended to require that the City Attorney be admitted to practice law in all courts of the state and in federal courts, and that it is preferred that the City Attorney be board certified in local government law by the Florida Bar Association? – APPROVED

Question No. 9
Should the Fernandina Beach City Charter be amended to require referendum approval by the voters in the City before the Police Department could be dissolved? – APPROVED

Question No. 10
Should the Fernandina Beach City Charter be amended to require referendum approval by the voters in the City before the Fire Department could be dissolved? – APPROVED

Question No. 11
Should the Fernandina Beach City Charter be amended to require that the City Clerk be a member of a professional clerk’s association, that the City Commission have an employment contract with the City Clerk and that the City Clerk propose a City Clerk pro tem to serve in the absence of the City Clerk? – APPROVED

Question No. 12
Should the Fernandina Beach City Charter be amended to require that the Comptroller: a) have professional credentials such as Certified Public Accountant; b) be a member of the Florida Government Finance Officers Association; c) propose sound investment policies for the City; and d) schedule an annual financial audit of City accounts by an independent certified public accountant? – APPROVED

Question No. 13
Should the Fernandina Beach City Charter be amended to prohibit any transfers of money from the Land Conservation Trust Fund to any other City fund and that no funds in the Land Conservation Trust Fund can be appropriated for any purpose other than those set forth in the Fernandina Beach Land Conservation Program? – APPROVED

Question No. 14
Should the Fernandina Beach City Charter be amended to delete prohibitions on community redevelopment areas (CRA’s) that limit the number to no more than 2 CRA’s in the City and that no CRA can be created with properties valued collectively at more than 2% of the total assessed value of all property in the City? – FAILED

Question No. 15
Should the Fernandina Beach City Charter be amended to provide for oath of office language for every City employee, board member and City Commissioner that includes requirements of state law and additional affirmations to abide by the City’s Comprehensive Plan and Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees? – APPROVED

Question No. 16
Should the Fernandina Beach City Charter be amended to provide that Charter Officers and advisory board members as well as City Commissioners have the power to cause any City department or the conduct of any City officer or employee to be investigated in accordance with City procedures? – APPROVED

Question No. 17
Should the Fernandina Beach City Charter be amended to provide for a citizen initiative process to introduce new ordinances to the City Commission for approval, and if rejected by the City Commission, the ordinance initiative would go to voters of the City at a referendum election? – APPROVED

Question No. 18
Should the Fernandina Beach City Charter be amended to provide that the City Charter must be reviewed every 8 years and require the City Commission to appoint a Charter Review Committee made up of City electors to make recommendations for changes to the City Charter? – APPROVED

Question No. 19
Should the Fernandina Beach City Charter be amended to correct errors and describe the City as: The City of Fernandina was first established in 1825, then abolished and reincorporated in 1921 by the Florida Legislature. The Town of Fernandina Beach was established in 1949 by the Florida Legislature. The City of Fernandina and the Town of Fernandina Beach were consolidated as the City of Fernandina Beach on January 1, 1952 after approval by voters? – APPROVED

Question No. 20
Should the City of Fernandina Beach Charter be amended to remove certain provisions that are already covered by state law, clarify certain provisions without changing the meaning by combining sections or moving sections, and revise certain provisions to be consistent with state law? – APPROVED

________________________________

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.