Charter Review Committee votes on issues

Photo of the Tallahassee Charter Review Committee
Photo Courtesy: Kiana Simmons

The Tallahassee Charter Review Committee held a meeting on Tuesday at the Renaissance Center to begin voting on the ongoing issues and debates pertaining to the city commissioners, elections, charter review dates, and additional concerns.

Many citizens still had questions and comments regarding the last CRC meeting held on Feb. 15.  All 10 CRC members were present for Tuesday’s meeting, and thoughts were heard and decisions were made by the panel.

Stanley Sims, a Tallahassee resident who attended the meeting, was present in last week’s meeting and came with more to say on Tuesday regarding the subject of moving two-person city commission races from the August primary election to the general election in November.

“As we go forward my only issue is that we’re not able to really address some of these major questions because some of the information that you guys got, we didn’t get, and that puts me in a dilemma,” Sims said. “In spite of having someone in great leadership of rural Tallahassee that’s taking our community in the wrong direction, all of which I think is intruding the integrity, dignity, and respect of this charter which I view as my constitution,” Sims said. “I want to warn this board we live now in an era where ban is popular, and it comes to us in all shapes and sizes, and I hope that we don’t ban primary elections.”

After hearing the public’s comments on the primary and general elections, the CRC voted 7-3 in favor of the motion, which went against the hopes of some citizens.

When the topic of the number of city commissioner seats arose, members of the CRC had different views on what the verdict should be.

Jared Willis, a CRC member, expressed his discomfort with making a decision on the debate of whether the city commissioners’ seats should increase from five to seven.

“To be honest, I’m not ready to vote on it. I don’t think that as a committee, we’ve come to terms with the question of representation and whether two, three, or four more changes will present adequate representation,” Willis said. “We have the motion on the table, and I’m inclined to vote down on it, and I would incline to vote down if we had a motion for two more seats. I’m just not ready to make a decision at this point.”

A substitute motion to table the vote on expanding city commissioner seats to the next meeting date resulted in a failed 3-7 vote, which ultimately resulted in the original motion being voted on. The majority voted for keeping the city commissioner seats as is, at five.

Sha’Ron James, a CRC member, agreed that city commissioners’ current salaries are too low but there are no set ideas on what it should be increased to.

“If we don’t recommend an increase, the current $48,000 will be in place at least until January 2031. Price, inflation, everything is very worrisome. We need to discuss whether we think their current salary should really stay the same or not,” James said.

The motion was pushed forward by the CRC on the consideration of increasing city commissioners’ salaries.

The CRC also made a motion to recommend there be an initial review of the charter in six years, with subsequent reviews every eight years after that, and that the committee convenes no later than year one of the year prior to the next review.

The next CRC meeting will be held on Thursday, Feb. 29. For more information on upcoming Tallahassee Charter Review Committee meetings, visit the website.