Islamorada Village Council is set to consider an ordinance that extends the number of years a member serves on the dais.
Proposed amendments to the village charter to lengthen the term would go before village voters, if approved by council members on Thursday, April 8.
Representatives to the village dais serve two-year terms. And they aren’t staggered, meaning all five seats will be up for election in 2022. That’s due to a complete overhaul on the dais following last year’s election, which saw new faces chosen for each seat.
Several current council members believe increasing the term to three or four years and staggering them would be key to keeping a village manager for the long term. Councilman David Webb said it could bring stability to the dais.
“We haven’t even begun to tackle some of the most strategic issues like stormwater,” Webb said. “You talk about a year? You’re looking at 10 years from really working on the concept of stormwater, looking at what all the requirements are going to be, looking at how the funding’s going to happen, and then you have all the events in between that either accelerate the timeline or shorten it.”
Discussion over term lengths dates back to January 2018 when then-council members directed the village attorney to prepare an ordinance that proposed staggered four-year terms. Public hearings were held in June and July of 2018 with a referendum placed on the 2018 general election ballot. The amendment didn’t pass.
“There are council members sitting here who want to do things that may take a year and a half to finalize,” Vice Mayor Pete Bacheler said during last month’s meeting. “And you can’t do that if at the end of the 15 months or so, you’re turning around and running for election again.”
Key West commissioners serve four year terms, while Marathon council members serve for three years. Monroe County commissioners serve two-year terms.
In other unfinished business, the council will provide additional public discussion at the April 8 meeting on a management plan for the Fills. Concerns were heard following council approval of CPH Inc. as the village’s consultant to assist in creating a master plan for maintenance on three small islands connecting Upper and Lower Matecumbe Keys and Indian Key boat ramp. Per the agreement, CPH Inc. is receiving $55,000 to come up with plans, which are required per a pair of 5-year sublease agreements with the Florida Department of Transportation and state Department of Environmental Protection.
Adopted on March 18, the resolution to hire CPH Inc. didn’t initiate improvements to the Fills. Specific plans will come back to the council in a public meeting prior to a final draft for review by FDOT and FDEP.
“The management plan will not commit the village to completing any elements of the plan, but will help expedite FDOT and FDEP approval of improvements included in the plan that may be desired at some point in the future,” the village stated recently to the public.
Around $350,000 was approved in the 2020-21 adopted budget in the capital projects fund for the Fills master plan engineering and construction costs. The revenue for the project comes from the local government discretionary sales surtax, which is the primary funding stream for capital projects.
Some of the key points to the plan will be delineated parking and a cable barrier system. Cones and barriers remain at the Fills in an effort to control the number of vehicles and people there.