To the editor:
During the March Council meeting, Mayor Ruane admitted that a full charter review, required in even decade years by 7.03 Legislation Review in our Municipal Code, had not been done. The mayor said "To my surprise, we are supposed to review the charter every 10 years and we have not." It might be in fine print, but something legally required and important like this should have been scheduled far in advance by the city attorney, at a minimum.
The mayor wants to have a Charter Review Committee of five people to take only six months to complete their work. Any proposed changes to Sanibel's charter must then go to referenda, which the mayor wants citizens to vote upon in March 2019, the date of the next municipal election. Although Councilman (Jason) Maughan suggested any changes be made retroactive to 2010, that may be problematic. It might be more helpful for the 2019 review to count as the required 2020 review, so the work would not have to repeated the following year. Those details are to be worked out.
This committee to review Sanibel's Charter may need more than six months, and the work would certainly be more thorough if more than five people were on the working committee. Most importantly, I believe that most of those selected by Mayor Ruane should be tax-paying citizens of Sanibel, whose main interest is in preserving the island of the Sanibel Plan and those who treasure it.
We need to ensure that money and power on our island do not flow just to commercial interests and the Chamber of Commerce as a result of the "commercial tax revenues," but to the island voters, taxpayers, and property owners from which the lion's share of the revenue comes. We need to ensure that the Planning Department, and its Code Enforcement arm, operate fairly and reasonably. Councilman Maughan has proposed term limits for council members and this is the perfect time to explore that option.
All Sanibelians who care about our island and believe you could make a difference in the Charter Review this year, please contact Mayor Ruane and submit your name for consideration. Familiarity with the charter is helpful, but it is on line and can be printed out for review.