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More resident input gathered at GPICA meeting

Second session held concerning charter, incorporation

March 28, 2018
By ED FRANKS (efranks@breezenewspapers.com) , Pine Island Eagle

The second of four Town Hall meetings was held Thursday night at the Pine Island Community Church. The purpose of the meetings is to gather residents' feedback on the proposed charter for the proposed "Village of Matlacha/Pine Island." A completed charter and a feasibility study are required to begin the process voters will ultimately vote on.

The two-hour meeting was chaired by Joe Mazurkiewicz, the president for BJM Consulting Inc. BJM is a firm that specializes in local government activities. Mazurkiewicz served as mayor of Cape Coral from 1983 to 1993 before forming BJM Consulting.

Early last year, shortly after the annexation of 6 lots on Matlacha, BJM Consulting was hired by the Greater Pine Island Civic Association to conduct a study on the financial feasibility of incorporating Pine Island and Matlacha.

Florida statutes mandate that any community requesting incorporation submit a written municipal charter, along with a feasibility study to state representatives (Ray Rodriguez, Lizbeth Benequisto and Dane Eagle).

"This also gives the voters of Pine Island and Matlacha something specific to vote either for or against," Mazurkiewicz said. "The charter establishes the form of government, the number of council people and method of voting and many other things in black and white. Instead of voting on the 'idea' of a city without really knowing what that means, the charter covers everything."

A number of people attending the second meeting did not attend the first Town Hall meeting and Mazurkiewicz answered numerous questions about material already discussed and voted upon.

"Home rule is treasured by local governments and what is accomplished with incorporation." Mazurkiewicz said. "All three forms of government have the same level of home rule."

There are three main forms of government in the state of Florida: The first a strong mayor, who is the chief elected official and runs the city council. The mayor and city council are elected by the people. The second is a city council with a town manager. The council hires a city manager to manage the city. The third is a city commission elected by the people.

One of the first issues discussed and voted on was the form of government. The form of government in the proposed charter will be council/manager.

One central concern heard from Matlacha residents is the "under representation" Matlacha would receive because of the smaller population.

Mazurkiewicz suggested that issue could be overcome by the type of government and the number of voting districts for council members to offer Matlacha a more equitable vote.

This concern was addressed by deciding there would be five members on the council elected by their respective districts and two at-large council members elected to represent all of Pine Island and Matlacha.

Mazurkiewicz summarized the meeting into "issues decided," "issues to be researched further," "issues to be included in the proposed charter" and "language to be included in the preamble."

Issues decided:

Form of government will be council/manager

Council Makeup

Number of council members - 7 member hybrid with 5 members elected from single member districts and 2 members elected at large.

Issues to be included in proposed charter:

Primary funding for capital improvements and maintenance will be by special assessments from improved properties based on a prorate share or taxable value. Comp plan changes will need a super majority vote to be adopted.

Language to be included in Preamble

Items of importance are: Land use, clean water and maintaining present lifestyle (quality of life)

FEMA

Concerns over the impact of incorporation on flood insurance will need to be studied further.

The subject of an ombudsman was addressed where ombudsman would be appointed by each of the community civic associations who would have a 'voice' on the municipal council. The concept was discussed and rejected.

Separate and Joint Referendum

Neither the people of Matlacha nor the people of Pine Island wish to impose a new government on the other without their consent.

Land Use in Charter

Comprehensive Land Use plan can only be changed by a referendum of the registered voters.

Ordinance adoption process

It was proposed that all ordinances would be adopted only after a period of time to allow for citizens to petition for a referendum vote to confirm support. This will be discussed further at the next meeting.

GPICA's third town hall meeting is Thursday, March 29, at 6 p.m., at Pine Island Community Church, 5320 Doug Taylor Circle, St. James City.

 
 

 

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