Since a handful of North Miami Beach residents are obviously confused about their own city’s charter, I decided to do some actual research about the city council’s intention to propose a draft version of a “New and Improved Charter.”
After a little digging into the laws of the State of Florida and the County of Miami-Dade, as well as the section of the NMB Charter that deals with “Charter Review,” I came up with some interesting findings.
The most interesting one of all is that this isn’t rocket science.
“The city council shall appoint a Charter Review Committee composed of residents of the City of North Miami Beach to review this Charter and make recommendations to the city council regarding necessary or desired amendments no less than once every ten (10) years.”
Make a note that this Section was added to the City Charter by Resolution No. R2009-12, Section 2, and approved by a referendum (vote by the electorate) on May 5, 2009.
This Resolution clearly states that a Charter Review Committee is to be appointed by the city council at least once every ten years.
That’s all it says.
Nowhere does it say that the appointment of a Charter Review Committee is the ONLY method of amending the charter.
Any questions so far?
Florida Statute 166.013, subsection (1) states:
“The governing body of a municipality may, by ordinance, or the electors of a municipality may, by petition signed by 10 percent of the registered electors as of the last preceding municipal general election, submit to the electors of said municipality a proposed amendment to its charter, which amendment may be to any part or to all of said charter except that part describing the boundaries of such municipality. The governing body of the municipality shall place the proposed amendment contained in the ordinance or petition to a vote of the electors at the next general election held within the municipality or at a special election called for such purpose.”
Let’s examine this Statute.
The term “governing body of a municipality” refers to a city council (or commission). The statute is very clear that the city council may “submit to the electors of said municipality a proposed amendment to its charter.”
Well, what do you know? Under the laws of the State of Florida, the city council of a municipality – any municipality – can actually propose an amendment to its own city’s charter!
This Florida Statute also states that a charter amendment can be proposed by a “petition signed by 10 percent of the registered electors.”
How cool is that? Not only does the city council of North Miami Beach have the power to propose amending the charter, but if ten percent of the city’s registered voters decide they want to propose an amendment to the charter, they also have that power!
What’s critical to note here is that the Florida Statute doesn’t override Section 121 of the North Miami Beach charter, which still must appoint a Charter Review Committee every ten years. The Statute merely provides an additional method by which a municipality may amend its charter.
PLEASE NOTE: Once an amendment has been proposed by either the city council or a petition of the voters, the proposed amendment must then be placed on the ballot for a “vote of the electors” at the next general election or a special election. In the end, the voters of North Miami Beach still have the final word whether or not to approve the proposal.
Good. Let’s move along.
Article 6, Section 6.01. Continuance of Municipalities, of Miami-Dade County Home Rule Amendment and Charter, states:
A. Except as provided in Section 6.04, any municipality in the county may adopt, amend, or revoke a charter for its own government or abolish its existence in the following manner. Its governing body shall, within 120 days after adopting a resolution or after the certification of a petition of ten percent of the qualified electors of the municipality, draft or have drafted by a method determined by municipal ordinance a proposed charter amendment, revocation, or abolition which shall be submitted to the electors of the municipalities. Unless an election occurs not less than 60 nor more than 120 days after the draft is submitted, the proposal shall be submitted at a special election within that time. The governing body shall make copies of the proposal available to the electors not less than 30 days before the election. Alternative proposals may be submitted. Each proposal approved by a majority of the electors voting on such proposal shall become effective at the time fixed in the proposal.
B. All municipal charters, amendments thereto, and repeals thereof shall be filed with the Clerk of the Circuit Court.
Although a bit more verbose than Florida Statute 166.013, it basically reiterates that either the “governing body” (by adopting its own resolution) or “ten percent of the qualified electors” (by having its petition certified) may propose a charter amendment, revoke its charter, or abolish it altogether, provided that the proposal is “submitted to the electors” within 120 days.
In summary, despite all protestations by the NMB Peanut Gallery to the contrary, by proposing its own draft version of a new charter, and offering that draft up for discussion at a Charter Workshop, the North Miami Beach City Council was operating well within the laws of the State of Florida, the County of Miami-Dade, and the City of North Miami Beach.
Whatever proposals the city council eventually submits to the electorate, the voters will still have the last word.
I hope you’ve been paying attention to this valuable lesson. Now you have absolutely no excuse for sounding like a complete moron the next time you open your mouth at public comment.
“Spreading the Wealth”