- January 20, 2023
When Winter Garden voters head to the polls on Tuesday, March 17, they will be asked to vote on nine charter amendments. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. that day. Residents can find their polling location by visiting ocfelections.com/find-my-polling-place and entering their home address.
Those Winter Garden voters living in District 1 also will have the opportunity to vote for which candidate they wish to represent them as the District 1 City Commissioner. Incumbent Lisa Bennett will face off against challenger Joseph Richardson. To read their Q&A, click here.
Here is a look at each charter amendment and what the changes mean for you.
Shall Article ll, Section 11 of the Charter be amended to provide for four-year terms of the members of the commission and mayor instead of the current three-year terms?
What it means: Each City Commission member currently serves a three-year term. If approved, this amendment would extend the terms of city commissioners elected in 2023 and beyond to four years.
Shall Article Il, Section 16 and Article lll, Section 27 of the Charter be amended to specify and provide more detailed provisions related to the hearing process for forfeiture of office against an elected official and removal of a city manager which provisions are intended to protect the due process rights of the official who is the subject of such hearings?
What it means: If approved, this amendment will change the processes regarding commissioners forfeiting office and removal of the city manager.
For the former, the amendment would require a majority vote of the City Commission — rather than the charge of two commissioners — to initiate the procedure of removing a city commissioner from office. The amendment also would require a hearing on the forfeiture no less than 14 days after the City Commission vote, providing for testimony and evidence without formal evidentiary rules but requiring due process.
For the latter, the amendment would give the city manager seven days to respond to a City Commission resolution to remove the city manager. Removal would not be effective until after the requested hearing occurs.
Shall Article ll, Section 17 of the Charter be amended to extend from six to 18 months the length of unexpired term caused by a mid-term vacancy that may be filled by the commission rather than election; extend from 30 to 45 the number of days after the vacancy the commission must make such appointment; and extend from 60 to 90 days after the vacancy the time for conducting an election, when required?
What it means: Current policy regarding a vacancy on the City Commission requires it is filled by the City Commission if there are six months or less left in the vacated commissioner’s unexpired term; if there are more than six months remaining, a special election is required.
This amendment would change the six months to 18 months. Should there be a vacancy, this extension does two things: It extends the deadline for citizens to submit their names to the city clerk for consideration of appointment to the vacant seat, and it gives the City Commission more time to fill the vacancy.
Shall Article ll, Section 20 of the Charter be amended to state that City shall follow State law regarding advertising of proposed ordinances and shall Article V Section 46 of the Charter be amended to conform to the existing State law terminology of “vote-by-mail ballots” regarding elections?
What it means: If approved, this amendment would conform the city’s ordinance adoption process and vote-by-mail election process with those of the state.
Shall Article 11, Section 21 of the Charter be amended to provide that a commissioner may vote on emergency measures by telephonic or other audio/visual methods provided that such commissioner can hear and be heard by all in attendance at the meeting?
What it means: If approved, this would allow city commissioners to participate in and vote at City Commissions by phone or another audio-visual means on any emergency matters as long as the commissioner is able to hear all speakers and can be heard by both the City Commission and public throughout.
Shall Article ll, Section 22 and Section 23 of the Charter be amended to delete unnecessary language and simplify existing language regarding revision and repeal of ordinances?
What it means: This amendment would remove redundant language regarding the City Commission’s authority to revise, compile and codify city ordinances. It also clarifies that the repeal of an ordinance doesn’t revive any ordinances that may have been repealed by that repealed ordinance.
Shall Article lll, Section 28 of the Charter be amended to extend the time allowed for a city manager to establish residency within the city and allow the commission to waive the city manager residency requirement for good cause shown?
What it means: Currently, the city manager is required to reside within the city or establish residency within 90 days of appointment, unless extended by the City Commission for good cause. If approved, this amendment would both allow a newly appointed city manager 180 days to establish residency and allow the City Commission to waive the residency requirement for good cause.
Shall Article V, Section 48 be amended to require that the election canvassing board be established by July 1 of each year instead of ninety days prior to July 1; Article V, Section 57 be amended to extend the time for filing citizen referendum petitions, and Article V, Section 58 be amended to clarify that time limits of five or fewer days in the citizen initiative or referendum process shall mean business days?
What it means: Currently, the city annually appoints its canvassing board 90 days prior to July 1. If approved, this amendment would give the city until July 1 to establish the canvassing board. It also would extend the time for filing citizen referendum petitions from 30 to 45 days and clarify that the time limits in the citizen referendum process for periods of five days or less are business days, not calendar days.
Shall Article Vlll, Section 65 of the Charter be amended to specify that the city manager shall report any appropriation transfers to the commission within 30 days?
What it means: Currently, the city manager is required to report transfers of funds among programs to the City Commission in a timely manner. If approved, this amendment would require the city manager to report such transfers to the commission within 30 days.