By Larisa Svechin, Mayor
(Wednesday, June 7, 2023) – Our City Charter is the founding document for Sunny Isles Beach. It is our citizens’ bill of rights, defines our form of government and city boundaries, and outlines how the city administration and legislation should be run.
Reexamining the Charter is an important part of our local democracy. Per our founders’ prudence, we must establish a Charter Revision Commission, made up of five citizens and one non-voting City Commission member, every 10 years to propose changes to the Charter. In December 2022, we appointed the Charter Revision Commission to begin the review process and on May 23, we held a special election for citizens to vote on the 14 proposed charter amendments.
This was the charter’s third revision by a Charter Revision Commission since incorporation in 1997, and all amendments were passed. Though many of the changes may not affect your day-to-day lives, the review process is imperative for our municipality.
Below are summaries of the amendments and what they mean for our city. You can read in more detail about each amendment at sibfl.net/proposed-charter-amendments.
1. The Vice Mayor is to be nominated by the Mayor and approved by the Commission.
2. Commission member terms now start on the 14th day (or first Monday) after the member is elected or immediately after results are certified from a special election.
3. Candidates running for Mayor or Commission must pay a qualifying fee of $200.
4. Should all members of the Commission be removed by resignation, recall, disability, or death, the special elections called for are pursuant to the Charter and Code of Ordinances.
5. Compensation for the Mayor and Commissioners will increase annually according to the South Florida area’s Consumer Price Index.
6. No member of the Commission is eligible for appointment as City Manager until five years after the term they are elected for ends.
7. The Mayor nominates the City Clerk, and the Commission confirms by majority. The City Clerk reports to the Commission and may be removed by a majority vote.
8. The Mayor nominates an individual attorney or law firm to act as City Attorney and the Commission confirms by majority.
9. No former elected City official may hold a compensated appointive City office or employment until three years after their term has ended.
10. Special elections should be governed in the same manner as run-off elections.
11. The Charter has removed a provision that allows the ballot title of a measure to differ from its legal title.
12. The next Charter Revision Commission will be appointed at the first City Commission Meeting in January 2033, and every 10 years after.
13. Charter amendments must be submitted to the City Commission within 150 days after the Charter Revision Commission is appointed. The City Commission will submit them to the City at the next regularly scheduled general election, or call a special election.
Having you, our citizens, vote on these amendments is crucial to maintaining a representative government. Though a special election for a referendum may not seem as paramount as an election for a candidate, participating in your local government is essential for our city to operate at its highest capacity.
I hope you will choose to exercise your right to vote at the next election. Whether it be electing a new Commissioner or amending our city’s founding document. Your vote matters.