Letter to the editor: Proposed City Charter Amendments have “areas of concern”

Dear Editor:

The Gainesville City Charter Review Commission will begin a public review of their recommendations this Wednesday, April 15th. There are several areas of concern to me, but because I’m not a terrific public speaker nor a civic leader, I’ll shy away from participating in the hearings. This letter is an appeal to those who will participate in the debate and who possess the aforementioned qualities lacking in me to voice my concerns.

Proposal #4: Term limits
Until recently, commissioners could serve two consecutive terms of three years each, for a total of six years. Currently they serve a four-year term with a limit of two terms, or eight years consecutively.  The proposed charter change would allow three terms of four years, yielding twelve years. Term limits would jump from a maximum of six years to twelve years in the span of just a couple years.

Proposal #5: Place GRU under the City Manager
GRU is currently highly politicized. Some of the deepest issues faced today are a result of the commission’s micromanagement of the citizen-owned utility. The GRU General Manager is currently an independent charter officer who reports to the City Commission. This charter amendment would place GRU under the City Manager and seems to be pointed in the wrong direction.

Proposal #6: Increase signature requirements for voter-initiated charter amendments to 20% of the registered voters
This seems unnecessary. There haven’t been a flurry of grass-roots amendment proposals. The only recent charter revision—changing the election cycle and changing terms from three years to four—was initiated by the commissioners. No current sitting commissioner was elected by more than 15% of registered voters. This would increase the threshold for a citizen initiative higher than electing a commissioner!  This is a solution to a nonexistent problem.

Proposal #8: Salary Increases for city commissioners
The current salaries are in line with surrounding municipalities of similar size.

George Braun

Gainesville, FL 32641

Editor’s note: comments may be submitted to the Charter Review Commission prior to the meeting via the following methods:

Submit public comments before the meetings

By eComment: Send online written comment before and during meetings:

  • Visit the “Agendas & Minutes” page on the City’s website.
  • Click the “eComment” link on the far right for the upcoming public hearing. Leave comments on the specific charter amendments.