Ten years have passed since the Town of Fort Myers Beach conducted its most recent charter review, a process that has been stated to be extremely important for the island. The purpose of the Town charter is "to promote the general welfare and common good of the community by providing the framework for a municipal corporation to exercise municipal home rule powers under the Constitution and laws of the State of Florida."
On Monday evening, Beach Council selected five community residents for the 2014 Charter Review Committee out of the 10 qualified individuals who submitted their names for consideration.
Tom Babcock, Miffie Greer, Dan Hughes, Jay Light and Dan Parker will man the advisory board. Al Durrett, who was tied with Parker in the voting process conducted by the FMB Council and was in attendance, told Council he would yield and serve as an alternative, thus allowing Parker, who was not in attendance, to be the fifth member of the board.
"This is probably the most important work that will be done in the next couple of years. The charter is the ruling document of the Town," said Beach Mayor Anita Cereceda. "Those five people with Mr. Durrett as the alternate will basically look back and look forward at the same time."
Cereceda likened those tasked with a charter review to Supreme Court justices. She served on Lee County's charter review committee years ago.
"They are going to set a tone," she said, "and I think we picked five really great people. There are really strict guidelines to follow."
Cereceda pointed out the last group that did a charter review, back in 2004, came up with many different recommendations, but Council did not except any of them.
Babcock and Parker were two that did serve on the 2004 review.
"I think I learned some things from that process that I wouldn't do the same again," said Babcock. "The opportunity to work in other capacities for the Town and the opportunity to work with other towns will be helpful in focusing what I think our Town can cover."
Babcock and Miffie Greer both received four votes -the highest number- from Council in the vote.
"I would be honored to be on the review committee, affirming those articles that are so important to us, and offering any ideas as to changes which would keep us current," Greer said prior to the voting process. "I believe I can give a fresh, new and thoughtful approach to our charter in light of the changes we have gone through."
Town Attorney Derek Rooney explained the basis of the review committee is to look into the articles of the current charter and determine issues such as the size of the council, quorums, if the Town wants to have a strong mayoral position or town manager position.
"There are all sorts of very important structural issues that get address by the charter, so that's why it is so very important they focus in on just those issues," he said. "The idea is that they sit down, look at how the process has been working and put forth some recommendations on how the town can improve."
The first meeting for the 2014 committee has not yet been set.