After a year without bylaws, The City of Tallahassee Citizen Advisory Committee for Utilities codified their mission and elected a Chairman and a Vice-Chairman. The final result is that all 15 members will be appointed by the City Manager, Anita Favors-Thompson, and the committee will “act as an advisory board to the City Manager.” The head of the electric utility also reports to the City Manager.
One member, Jim Croteau, voiced his desire to have the same model of the Animal Services Committee which has members appointed by the City Commission and reports to the City Commission. Mr. Croteau, who spoke briefly about his position on Wednesday at the City Commission meeting, also voiced concern over staff not consulting with the committee before making recommendations to the City Commission.
“We have to be informed and feel like we have input so that we can communicate with the citizens of this community about these issues”, said Mr. Croteau.
The discussion started by Mr. Croteau lasted about 5 minutes before committee member Sunny Phillips moved a motion to accept the by-laws as they were presented by City Attorney Jim English. The vote was 9-1 for acceptance. Ms. Phillips was then nominated and elected chairman without opposition.
When asked about citizen participation at the meetings, City Attorney Jim English told Tallahassee Reports “that like other committees, there is no language in the by-laws that speaks to citizen input. It will be up to the chairman to determine when and if citizens will be allowed to speak at future meetings.”
The vote to have the Citizens Advisory Committee report to the City Manager puts the City of Tallahassee in a unique position when compared to other Florida cities that own their electric utility. Jacksonville, Gainsville, Orlando, and Lakeland all have a structure that has some form of independent oversight of the electric utility operations.
For example, Jacksonville and Orlando have an independent Utility Authority, Lakeland and Gainesville have a citizen committee appointed by the City Commission that reports to the City Commission. None of the cities have a structure that gives the City Manager control over electric operations and the advisory committee.