The City Commissioners discussed implementing a city charter amendment process at their February 12 meeting. Currently, the City of Tallahassee Charter does not have a set process for charter amendment or periodic review.
Also during the discussion, the issue of city commissioner salaries was addressed. A majority of city commissioners voted to look at increasing their salaries to the level of county commissioners, which would be an increase from approximately $39,000 to $80,000.
Commissioner Jeremy Matlow made the motion to request an agenda item outlining the process of bringing City salaries in line with County salaries.
The motion passed 3-2, with Mayor Dailey and Commissioner Curtis Richardson in dissent.
“There is not a required process, but there are a variety of means available,” said City Treasurer-Clerk James Cooke.
If the City implements an amendment process, it would need to comply with guidelines in the Florida Statutes.
“Municipal charter amendments are addressed in Sections 166.021 and 166.031 of the Florida Statutes,” staff reports. “By law, charter amendments can be initiated either by a petition signed by 10% of registered voters or by City Commission action via an ordinance.”
In Tallahassee, the most recent change to the Charter, which did not require voter approval, was the Commission’s 2019 decision to implement gender-neutral language in the City’s Charter and ordinances.
The last change to require voter approval was adding new ethics provisions in November 2014.
The meeting agenda lists a proposed timeline for Charter review during 2021 and 2022. Scheduled items include appointing a Charter Review committee, drafting the amendment, and putting the amendment on the ballot for the citizens of Tallahassee to vote on.
Mayor John Dailey expressed support for a Charter review and the creation of a Charter review committee. He noted that the last full charter review was ten years ago.
However, Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox said she does not support moving forward with a full charter review. She said the City is “busier doing the work that the community really, really needs.”
“I don’t think now is the time for us to open it up and go forward with it and be able to do a really good job,” she said.
No action was taken on the city charter amendment process.