Unique to Palmetto voters on the Nov. 8 ballot are proposed changes to the city charter, the document that binds how a municipality operates its government.
Every five years a citizen committee is formed to review the document and is tasked with making recommendations to the city commission. Upon those approvals, the proposed changes are sent to the voters for final consideration. The length of time the city charter meets in Palmetto is one of the proposed changes.
The city charter review committee met for several months earlier this year and determined that reviewing the charter every five years is too frequent, and the proposed change is to double the time in between reviews to 10 years.
Most of the work done by review committees is clarifying language, but some significant changes are being proposed. The commission is made up of two at-large commissioners and three ward commissioners. A proposed change is for the three ward commissioners. The current requirement for a ward commissioner is to have resided in the ward for 180 days.
If passed, the charter would be amended to remove that requirement, but a requirement that a candidate be a legal resident of the city for at least 365 days before running for office would remain intact.
On the 180-day requirement, we don’t feel like our city is that large that if someone lives in the city they aren’t familiar with all the wards.
Palmetto Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant
Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant said she supports the changes and encourages the voters to do the same.
“It really just cleans it up,” Bryant said. “On the 180-day requirement, we don’t feel like our city is that large that if someone lives in the city they aren’t familiar with all the wards.”
Another change is to the vice mayor position, which in the past has largely been rotated from commissioner to commissioner. The charter review committee felt that the vice mayor’s position was more important, particularly in the event something should happen to the sitting mayor. Bryant agrees and said it’s also a time management issue for the best representation of the city.
“A vice mayor’s time availability is a big consideration,” Bryant said. “People love to have city representation at events and I attend as many as possible, but I am just one person. A commissioner who is still in a position of working a lot of hours or spends a lot of time traveling isn’t in the best position to serve as vice mayor. The vice mayor needs to be a backup person or have the ability to step into the mayor’s position if needed.”
Bryant said the changes, “helps make us more efficiently run the city.”