Know your ballot: Local charter amendments, referendums up for votes in November in Tampa Bay

Election

(Nexstar DC photo)

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – With less than 20 days until the 2020 election, ballots in the Tampa Bay area are piling up with county referendums and city amendments.

On top of the six proposed amendments to the state constitution, many voters will have the opportunity to decide on various proposed city and county referendums.

Here are the county and city amendments and referendums broken down by county:

Hardee

Referendum: Authorization to Grant Property Tax Exemptions to New Businesses and Expansions of Existing Businesses

What it says: “Shall the Board of County Commissioners of Hardee County be authorized, for an additional ten (10) years, to grant pursuant to 5.3, Art. VII of the State Constitution, property tax exemptions to new businesses and to expansion of existing businesses?”

What a YES vote means: You support an attempt to bolster the local economy through a property tax exemption for new businesses or expanding businesses for up to ten years.

Hernando

Referendum: Hernando School District Millage For Public School Students

What it says: “Shall the School Board of Hernando County levy an ad-valorem operating millage of 1 mill annually to 1) attract and retain high-quality teachers and staff with competitive salaries and provide additional staff to support student needs, 2) maintain and increase school safety measures and increase mental health services for students, 3) provide students and staff with devices, resources and support, 4) maintain and increase educational opportunities for all students and 5) appoint a Citizens Volunteer Millage Committee to review annual spending.”

What a YES vote means: You support paying an additional one mill — or $1 for each $1,000 your property is valued annually by the property appraiser — to help the Hernando County School Board recruit and retain quality teachers, keep students safe and expand successful academic and career and technical programs.


Highlands

Referendum: Economic Development Incentive

What it says: “These exemptions would provide economic incentives to assist new or expanding
businesses and will have a positive impact on the Highlands County economy. Shall the Highlands County Board of County Commissioners be authorized to continue to grant, pursuant to s. 3, Art. VII of the State Constitution, property tax exemptions to new businesses and expansions of existing businesses?”

What a YES vote means: You support a tax exemption for up to ten years, for improvements to properties that may be used by new or expanding businesses.


Manatee

Referendum: Water Quality Protection, Fish and Wildlife Habitat Preservation and Park Ad Valorem Tax and Bonds

What it says: “To finance the acquisition, improvement and management of land to protect drinking water sources and water quality, preserve fish and wildlife habitat, prevent stormwater runoff pollution and provide parks, shall Manatee County levy an additional 0.15 mill ad valorem tax and issue general obligation bonds in a total principal amount not exceeding $50,000,000, maturing  within 20 years, bearing interest not exceeding the legal rate, payable from such ad valorem taxes, with annual public audits?”

What a YES vote means: You support paying an additional estimate $2.40 per month in order for the county to purchase natural areas around Manatee County, in an effort to protest water sources, conserve habitats, provide parks and other similar purposes.


City of Bradenton Charter Amendment 1: Clarifying the Powers of the Office of Vice Mayor

What it says: “Shall the Bradenton City Charter be amended to provide that when temporarily exercising the powers of Mayor, the Vice-Mayor may vote as a Council Member but may not exercise the Mayor’s veto power while providing that upon a vacancy in the office of Mayor, the Vice-Mayor assumes the office of Mayor with all its powers until the next city election?”

What a YES vote means: You support allowing the vice mayor to temporarily assume mayoral duties in the mayor’s absence and when doing so, to still vote as a councilmember. The vice mayor would not be allowed to exercise mayoral veto powers.


City of Bradenton Charter Amendment 2: Removing Initial Technical and Transitional Provisions, Archaic Language and Boundary Descriptions

What it says: “Shall the Bradenton City Charter be amended to remove initial technical and transition provisions that have long since occurred, revise archaic language and provide that the legal description of the corporate boundaries of the City will be kept on file with the City Clerk?”

What a YES vote means: You support clarifying the outdated language in the city’s charter document, as well as removing the legal description of the corporate boundaries of the city.


City of Bradenton Charter Amendment 3: Revising the Powers of the Office of Mayor

What it says: “Shall the Bradenton City Charter be amended to revise the powers of the office of
Mayor, to remove the office’s general executive and supervisory powers, the power to appoint, terminate and direct the Police Chief, and the power to fill certain temporary vacancies, but retain the powers to preside at council meetings, break ties in council votes, appoint committees, and veto ordinances?”

What a YES vote means: You support removing the mayor’s general executive and supervisory powers, including the power to appoint, terminate and direct the police chief. The mayor would still preside at city council meetings, break ties in council votes, appoint committees and veto ordinances.


Bradenton Beach Ballot 1: Prohibition of Multi-Level Parking Garages Only

What it says: “Should the charter of Bradenton Beach be amended to prohibit the building of any multi-level parking garages within the city of Bradenton Beach? All other parking garages, facilities and structures are allowed as permitted by local law.”

What a YES vote means: You support adding language to the city charter prohibiting the future construction of a multi-level parking garage within Bradenton Beach city limits.


Bradenton Beach Ballot 2: Prohibition of Multi-Level Parking Garages and Mandated Citywide Voter Referendum to Increase its Density

What it says: “Should the city amend its charter to: (1) Prohibit the approval, development and building of any stand-alone parking garage structures in all residential zoning districts; (2) Prohibit any multi-level parking garage, structure or facility exceeding a total density of one multi-level parking garage within the entire municipal limits; and (3) Establish a mandatory citywide voter referendum to increase the multi-level parking garage density?”

What a YES vote means: You support the potential construction of one multi-level parking garage in Bradenton Beach


Parrish Fire District Referendum: Authorization to Increase Annual Special Assessments for Fire Protection Services

What it says: “Shall the District be authorized to increase its base rate of assessment to include an additional flat charge of $80 for each developed residential, commercial and industrial parcel, excluding vacant, acreage and golf course parcels, to fund District costs including the hiring of firefighters and operational costs for future station 2, with the rate increase becoming effective for the District’s fiscal year beginning October 1, 2021?

What a YES vote means: You support an increased base rate of $80 to support costs related to the Parrish Fire Department.


Trailer Estates Fire Control District Referendum: Authorization to Increase Annual Special Assessments for Fire Protection Services

What it says: “Shall the District be authorized to increase its rate assessment to $175 per property per year, to pay for the District’s annual operating expenses and upgrading equipment, the fire station and facilities, purchasing a newer fire truck, improving staffing including hiring a full-time fire chief, with the rate increase becoming effective for the District’s fiscal year beginning October 1, 2021, and any annual rate increases thereafter limited by section 191.009 Florida Statutes?”

What a YES vote means: You support the increased rate of $175 per year to go to the Trailer Estates Fire Department. Information on what the funding would go to can be found in this handout.


Pinellas

Referendum: Approval of the Continuation of One-Half Mill Ad Valorem Tax for School Operating Expenses

What it says: “Shall the Pinellas County School District ad valorem millage of one-half mill per year be continued beginning July 1, 2021, and ending June 30, 2025, for necessary operating expenses including funds to recruit and retain quality teachers; preserve reading programs and music and art classes; and provide current textbooks and technology, sharing funds with charter schools proportionate to student enrollment as required by law, with expenditure oversight by an independent citizens financial oversight committee?”

What a YES vote means: You support the measure, which is currently in place, continuing a property tax levy of $50 per $100,000 of your home’s property value in order to support operating expenses of Pinellas County schools.


City of Belleair Beach Charter Amendment 1: Establishing Term Limits

What it says: “Shall Article II, Section 2.02, of the Charter entitled ‘Election and terms’ be amended to prohibit individual council members, including the mayor, from holding office for more than two (2) consecutive terms?”

What a YES vote means: You support a two-year term limit for Belleair Beach council members, including the Belleair Beach mayor.


City of Belleair Beach Charter Amendment 2: Using Robert’s Rules of Order at Council Meetings and Motions by the Presiding Officer

What it says: “Shall Article II, Section 2.045(a), of the Charter entitled ‘General powers and duties of the mayor and city council’ be amended to require all council meetings to be conducted using Robert’s Rules of Order as a guideline and allow the presiding officer to make a motion by passing the gavel to the senior-most councilmember?”

What a YES vote means: You support providing a defined process to allow motions to be offered by the mayor or presiding officer during council meetings.


City of Belleair Beach Charter Amendment 3: Forfeiture of Office for Failure to Attend Council Meeting, Budget Sessions or Work Session

What it says: “Shall Article II, Section 2.06, of the Charter entitled ‘Vacancies, forfeiture, and filling of vacancies’ be amended to require the mayor/vice mayor and council members to forfeit their office if they fail to attend four (4) regular council meetings, budget sessions or work sessions within any twelve (12) month period?”

What a YES vote means: You support the efforts to improve participation and attendance for meetings and workshops, which include no process for excusing absences.


City of Belleair Beach Charter Amendment 4: Deletion of References to “City Treasurer” in Specific City Charter Provisions

What it says: “Since the city council has outsourced the position of city treasurer as a contract employee, shall Article IV, Section 4.02, of the Charter entitled ‘Appointment’ and Article IV, Section 4.03 of the Charter entitled ‘removal’ be amended to delete references to the ‘city treasurer’ as being either appointed or removed by the council?”

What a YES vote means: You support removing unnecessary charter language as well as updating the charter to reflect current city treasurer employment as a contracted position.


City of Belleair Beach Charter Amendment 5: Modifying How the Council Utilizes the City’s Strategic Plan

What it says: “Shall Article IX (general provisions) of the City Charter be amended to require the city council to utilize the City’s Strategic Plan as a guideline and to periodically review and revise the Strategic Plan?”

What a YES vote means: You support establishing a requirement to develop, use and review a city strategic plan by the charter.


City of Belleair Bluffs Charter Amendment 1: Amendment Requiring 24 Hours Notice for Special Meetings

What it says: “Shall Section C3.05 of the City Charter be amended, pursuant to Ordinance 2014-03, to require no less than 24 hours notice to each Commission member and the public before a special meeting of the City Commission may be held?”

What a YES vote means: You support the required notice for city commission meetings to increase from 12 hours to 24 hours.


City of Belleair Bluffs Charter Amendment 2: Required Qualifications of City Attorney

What it says: “Shall Section C5.02 of the City Charter be amended, pursuant to Ordinance 2014-04, to require that the City Attorney be a member in good standing of the Florida Bar, qualified to practice law before the highest courts of the State of Florida and the Federal District Court of the Middle District of Florida?”

What a YES vote means: You support establishing more specific qualifications for the position of the city attorney.


City of Belleair Bluffs Charter Amendment 3: Provision of Canvassing Board for all Elections as Required by State Statute

What it says: “Shall Section C6.04 of the City Charter be amended, pursuant to Ordinance 2014-05, to require that the City Commission provide a canvassing board for all elections held under the charter as required by State statute?”

What a YES vote means: You support continuing the requirement for the city commission to provide for a canvassing board for all elections held under this charter.


City of Belleair Bluffs Charter Amendment 4: Appointment of Charter Review Committee at Least Every Seven (7) Years

What it says: “Shall Section C7.02 of the City Charter be amended, pursuant to Ordinance No. 2014-06, to change the frequency of the appointment of the Charter Review Committee from once every five (5) years to once every seven (7) years?”

What a YES vote means: You support requiring the city council to appoint a Charter Review Committee every seven years instead of every five years.


City of Belleair Bluffs Charter Amendment 5: Appointment of Ordinance Review Committee at Least Every Seven (7) Years

What it says: “Shall Section C7.03 of the City Charter be amended, pursuant to Ordinance No. 2014-07, to change the frequency of the appointment of the Ordinance Review Committee from once every five (5) years to once every seven (7) years?”

What a YES vote means: You support requiring the city council to appoint an Ordinance Review Committee every seven years instead of every five years.


City of Clearwater Referendum: Lease of Recreation/Open Space Real Property for Light Industrial Use

What it says: “Shall the City Council be authorized to lease approximately 58 acres of municipal real property that is recreation/open space on the land use plan map and is a majority of The Landings Golf Course, located on the east side of Keene Road, on the north side of Airport Drive, whose post office address is 1875 Airport Drive, Clearwater, Florida, for the purpose of development as a light industrial, research, technology and office park?”

What a YES vote means: You support the reduction of the recreational space known as Landings Golf Course from 77 acres to 20 acres for potential industrial use.


City of Largo Charter Amendment 1: Referendum Approval of Lease of City-Owned Real Property

What it says: “Should section 2.12 of the city charter be amended to require referendum approval of a lease of city-owned property for a term greater than 10 years, instead of the present provision, which requires referendum approval of a lease with a term of greater than five years?”

What a YES vote means: You support a requirement to approve leases of city-owned property for more than 10 years. Approval is currently required for leases of city-owned property for more than five years.


City of Largo Charter Amendment 2: Charter Review Committee

What it says: “Should section 9.02 of the city charter be amended to require that the Charter Review Committee convene at least once every 10 years, instead of the present provision, which requires that the Charter Review Committee convene at least once every seven years?”

What a YES vote means: You support requiring the city commission to appoint a Charter Review Committee (CRC) every 10 years, instead of every seven years.


City of Madeira Beach Charter Amendment 1: Qualifying Period for Candidates Seeking the Office of Mayor or District Commissioner

What it says: “This charter amendment would amend subparagraph (A) of Section 3.3 of the Charter to provide that the qualifying period for candidates seeking the office of mayor or district commissioner be the first full two weeks in December in order to meet the requirements of the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections. Should the Charter be amended?”

What a YES vote means: You support the length of the qualifying period for the office of mayor or district commissioner being reduced from 30 days to 14 days.


City of Madeira Beach Charter Amendment 2: District Commissioner Resignation

What it says: “This charter amendment would amend subparagraph (B) of Section 3.3 of the Charter to provide that any District Commissioner who desires to become a candidate for the office of Mayor shall resign his/her office ten days before the qualifying period begins in order to meet the requirements of the Florida State Statute. Should the Charter be amended?”

What a YES vote means: You support requiring a sitting commissioner running for mayor to submit a resignation 10 days before the candidate qualifying period instead of 60 days before.


City of Madeira Beach Charter Amendment 3: Manner of Holding Elections

What it says: “This amendment amends Section 3.4E of the Charter to provide that any candidate receiving the highest number of votes in an election for office shall be elected to office and if two or more candidates receive an equal and highest number of votes for the same office then those persons shall draw lots to determine who shall be elected in order to meet the requirements of the Florida Statute. Should the Charter be amended?”

What a YES vote means: You support any candidate who wins the highest number of votes in a city election being declared the winner.


City of Madeira Beach Charter Amendment 4: Terms of Office for District Commissioners and Mayor

What it says: “This charter amendment would amend subparagraph B of Section 2.2 of the Charter to change the term of office for District Commissioners from two to three years and change the term of office for Mayor from three to four years to avoid the cost of annual elections. Should the Charter be amended?”

What a YES vote means: You support decreasing the frequency of municipal elections by enacting longer terms for district commissioner and mayor.


City of Madeira Beach Charter Amendment 5: Terms of Office for District Commissioners and Mayor

What it says: “This charter amendment would amend Subparagraph A of Section 3.4 of the Charter to change the term of office for District Commissioners from two to three years and change the term of office for Mayor from three to four years to avoid the cost of annual elections. Should the Charter be amended?”

What a YES vote means: Similar to Amendment No. 4, a yes vote means you support reducing election expenses by requiring fewer elections.


City of Madeira Beach Charter Amendment 6: Deletion of Independent Audit Provisions Inconsistent with State Law

What it says: “This charter amendment would amend Section 4.10 of the Charter to provide that provisions of Section 4.10 that are inconsistent with state law shall be deleted. Should the Charter be amended?”

What a YES vote means: You support putting the city into compliance with the state statute in regards to auditing services and preventing potential legal conflict.


City of Tarpon Springs Referendum: Authorize the Purchase of the Hoffman Properties at Spring Bayou

What it says: “The City proposes to purchase two parcels of property on the corner of West Tarpon Ave. and Spring Blvd. from Edward C. Hoffman Jr. and Barbara A. Hoffman for $650,000 for the purpose of future development or preservation of civic space or use. Shall this sale be approved?”

What a YES vote means: You support the city’s purchase of the properties for $657,000 for future development.


Polk

Referendum: Extension of Limited Property Tax Exemptions for Businesses Creating New Jobs

What it says: “Shall the board of Polk County Commissioners be reauthorized to grant, pursuant to Section 3, Article VII of the State Constitution, limited property tax exemptions, for a period of time, to new businesses and expansions of existing businesses that create new, full‐time jobs in the county?

What a YES vote means: You support a temporary and limited property tax exemption for improvements to properties that may be used by new or expanding businesses.


Charter Amendment No. 1: Expense Reduction – Charter Review

What it says: “Charter amendment to reduce expenses to Polk County by increasing the time between Charter Review Commissions from every 8 years to every 12 years.”

What a YES vote means: You support fewer Charter Review Commissions by increasing their frequency to every 12 years.


Charter Amendment No. 2: Expense Reduction- Efficiency Commission

What it says: “Charter amendment to reduce expenses to Polk County by deleting Articles 8.6 through 8.6.4 in their entirety of the County Charter as it relates to the Polk County Efficiency Commission.”

What a YES vote means: You support abolishing the citizens’ group, the Efficiency Commission, which meets every eight years.


Sarasota

Referendum: Economic Development Ad Valorem (Property) Tax Exemptions

What it says: “Shall the Board of County Commissioners of Sarasota County be authorized to grant, pursuant to s.3, Art. VII of the State Constitution, property tax exemptions to new businesses and expansions of existing businesses that are expected to create new, full-time jobs in the county?”

What a YES vote means: You support an attempt to bolster the local economy through a property tax exemption for new businesses or expanding businesses.

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