With Mayor Larry Kiker due to resign his seat on the Fort Myers Beach Town Council since he qualified as a candidate for Lee County Commission, the four other Council members have been instructed they will be appointing someone to fill his seat for the remainder of his term.
Kiker's resignation becomes official and is effective on Oct. 5, at midnight. His final term for Council ends in March 2013.
"The charter is very specific what happens when there is a vacancy in the office of mayor," said Town Attorney Marilyn Miller. "The vice mayor becomes mayor, which will create a vacancy in the office of vice mayor and a vacancy in Council."
The Oct. 5 day comes five days into the new fiscal year
"The reason we picked that date was we wanted to make sure we finished the budget (for fiscal year 2012-13)," said Kiker.
Due to his impending resignation, Kiker's final Council meeting falls on Monday, Oct. 1. During that meeting, Beach Vice Mayor Bob Raymond will take over the mayor duties, while a vice mayor will be appointed to fill his role.
The Town will begin to advertise for the upcoming vacant Council position. The candidate is required to be a registered voter and a resident of Fort Myers Beach at least one year prior to the date of appointment.
Once the legal ad is out, interested applicants will be asked to submit a letter to the Town announcing their candidacy. Staff will then vet each letter, before adding them to Council's packages for the Oct. 1 meeting.
According to Article 4 of the Town Charter, a vacancy on the Council shall be filled by appointment by majority vote of the remaining council members and that person shall be in office until a successor is chosen at the next regular election. The Council vote for replacement is expected to happen at the Oct. 1 meeting and the selected person is expected to join the other Council members at their second meeting of the month on Oct. 15.
Kiker defeated Lee County Commission incumbent Ray Judah in the Republican primary election for the commission's District 3 seat on Aug. 14, and will face San Carlos Island resident Charlie Whitehead, of no party affiliation, in the general election on Nov. 6.
Public Safety Committee in place
An ordinance is now in place for the formation of a new standing committee.
Council unanimously approved the creation of the Public Safety Committee that now moves the interim Public Safety Task Force to an official advisory committee of the FMB Town Council. The ordinance repeals the ordinances and amendments that created the aforementioned task force and Traffic Mitigation Agency.
The focus of the committee will be "to review, discuss and evaluate safety and transportation issues for the purpose of health, safety and welfare of the citizens of and visitors to the Town of Fort Myers Beach and provide recommendations to Town Council."
"This Council has shown a great deal of concern and interest about the safety of residents and visitors that are pedestrians and bicyclists and decided to form a committee in order to accomplish that," said Town Manager Terry Stewart. "This committee will continue to (bring information to you) in order to ensure we are always paying attention to what happens in regards to pedestrians and bicyclists."
Members will be appointed to the newly created committee. Kiker asked Town staff to reach out to the Greater Fort Myers Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and the members of the interim Public Safety Task Force.
Town settles lawsuit involving Mound House work
There has been a settlement involving the Town of Fort Myers Beach and an original contractor for construction at Mound House.
The contractor for the underground exhibit reportedly left the job prior to work completion, according to Stewart.
"There were also some concerns about change orders that had not received approval. Therefore, the contractor issued a lawsuit against the Town and the court directed us to mediation," he said.
While the contractor asked for $27,000 in the lawsuit, a "fair amount" of $14,250 was awarded.
"That was the low amount that was originally approved for construction at the house. So, we are within budget on that still," said Stewart.
Matanzas Pass dredging announced
Within the next 40 days, there should be a dredging process involving Matanzas Pass, said Stewart.
As reported in the Beach Observer on July 11, a dredging permit application was pending with the Department of Environmental Protection agency for the navigable passageway. The filling-in of the pass has been ongoing since the 2011 Estero Island Restoration Project nourished the northern 1.2 miles of beachfront on Fort Myers Beach.
Sand from the restored beachfront at Bowditch Point Regional Park has passed beyond the installed jetty and accumulated at Bowditch Point at the northern most part of Fort Myers Beach to add inches to the seven-mile-long island. Tropical Storm Debby brought high winds and strong tides to Estero Island and aided in sand accumulating in the pass.
The channel was last dredged as an emergency case in 2009.
Back in July, US Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District representative Jackie Keiser confirmed a small scale dredging operation should be expected in the coming weeks.
"We are basically looking to do a dredging event there in late summer or early fall," she said at the time. "We are trying to gather enough funding to do a small job to remove the critical shoals."