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Final town hall held for proposed charter

April 11, 2018
By ED FRANKS (efranks@breezenewspapers.com) , Pine Island Eagle

The fourth and final Town Hall meeting to address the proposed charter for incorporation of the islands was held last Thursday night at Pine Island Community Church. The Greater Pine Island Civic Association financed the four charter meetings about 35 people were present.

The purpose of the four meetings was to gather residents' feedback on the proposed charter for the proposed "Village of Matlacha/Pine Island." A completed charter and a feasibility study are required to begin the process through the Florida Legislature that voters will ultimately vote on.

Joe Mazurkiewicz, the president for BJM Consulting Inc., chaired the meeting. BJM is a firm that specializes in local government activities. Mazurkiewicz served as mayor of Cape Coral from 1983 to 1993 before forming BJM Consulting.

There was a question from the audience about whether Matlacha or Pine Island could incorporate by themselves. Mazurkiewicz stated that either Pine Island or Matlacha could incorporate by themselves with the proper waivers.

"I was asked by the president of Greater Pine Island Civic Association to give them a proposal as to the cost to separate Pine island (remove Matlacha) from the study," Mazurkiewicz said.

Mazurkiewicz reviewed the decisions from the first three meetings. Decisions made at the first three Town Hall meetings are:

Issues confirmed: Form of government will be council/manager.

Issues to be included in proposed charter: Primary funding for capital improvements and maintenance will be by special assessments from improved properties based on a prorate share or taxable value.

Language to be included in preamble: Items of importance are land use, clean water and maintaining present lifestyle (quality of life). All submitted preamble language will be submitted to drafters for consideration.

FEMA: Concerns over the impact of incorporation on flood insurance will need to be studied further.

Council makeup: Number of council members 7 member hybrid with 5 members elected from single member districts and 2 members elected at large

Land use in charter: Comp plan will be included in charter with reference to existing Pine Island Plan with dates and will only be able to be changed by referendum of the registered voters

Council meetings: City council will meet at least once a month for a minimum total of 12 meetings per year.

City Manager: Will reside in city once selected and remain during term. All staff will be hired by city council and,or manager; none will be elected.

Debt: Any long-term debt (over 5 years) will only be allowed with approval from the voters by referendum.

Budget: Will be adopted in compliance with Florida Law

City staff: Original draft feasibility study included 5 employees, presently only 3. This should be reconsidered in next draft of the study.

Changes to Charter: Initiatives, reconsider ordinances and recall petitions will need 5 percent and charter changes 10 percent signatures of registered voters. All will be approved by 50 percent +1 of those voting in the election.

According to Mazurkie-wicz, the average taxpayer would not see any tax increase under incorporation.

"The way the study is configured right now, we're including the entire Matlacha/Pine Island Fire Control District, with the absence of Cape Royal," Mazurkiewicz said. "The new city would not pay for any new services; the city is not going to create any new capital projects; we're going to have the same levels of service; we're not going to enhance code enforcement and after five years you should have a couple million dollars in the bank. This is based on the status quo that nothing will change. That the EPA hasn't come in and said you have to fix this, the status quo."

Decisions made during the final meeting included:

Term of council members: 4 years

Term limits: 2 consecutive terms including not allowing an elected official to change seats in order to extend their term to over the two-term limit.

Council elections: Each candidate will need to have a majority of those voting in their election

Village canvassing board: Canvassing board shall consist of collected official (mayor) and city clerk along with county commissioner, supervisor of elections and county judge.

Eminent domain: Can only be used by the city when it's approved by the voters in a referendum vote.

Committees, boards, departments: Can be created by council when not paid and can only be created with a referendum vote of the electors when paid.

Capital Improvement Program: Shall be approved every 5 years by a vote of the of the electors. This will need research as the CIP is part of the Comp Plan and as such may need to be approved by the voters due to the plan being part of the charter.

Mazurkiewicz urged everyone to review the "SWOT analysis" that is part of the Matlacha - Pine Island Incorporation Feasibility Study. SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats that "incorporated" Pine Island / Matlacha would face. The entire report is available on the GPICA website at GPICA.org.

The next Greater Pine Island Civic Association meeting is Tuesday, May 1. At the April meeting, the GPICA board decided to continue meetings through the "off season: months of June September.

All meetings are open to the public at no charge. The association meets at the Elks on Pine Island Road, west of Stringfellow, on the first Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. Join or renew membership for $10 per person annual fee. Contact Roger Wood, president, at 920-421-3984.

 
 

 

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