WHAT TO EXPECT ON THE BALLOT:
10 Ballot Questions - one Yes/No question per proposed charter amendment
Question 1. Technical and Stylistic Amendments
Currently, the Village Charter contains non-substantive stylistic and technical inaccuracies that require updates and changes.
Shall the Charter be amended to reflect non-substantive stylistic and technical changes made for clarity, including re-naming and numbering of sections and providing for gender neutrality?
Question 2. Bill of Rights
Currently, the Village Charter does not include a Citizen’s Bill of Rights.
Shall the Charter be amended to include a Citizen’s Bill of Rights that encourages citizen participation within Village government?
Question 3. Run Off Elections
Currently, the Charter only provides that a run-off election shall occur when necessary.
Shall the Charter be amended to specify that a run-off election shall be held, in the same manner and form as the general municipal election, for candidates who receive a tie vote?
Question 4. Election Affiliations
Currently, the Charter does not include any prohibitions on election affiliation.
Shall the Charter be amended to specify that Village candidates must run independently from any other Village candidate and refrain from issuing joint campaign literature, with the exception that candidates may make endorsements?
Question 5. Non-Partisan Elections
Currently, the Charter does not specify that Council elections shall be conducted on a nonpartisan basis.
Shall the Charter be amended to specify that all Council elections shall be conducted on a nonpartisan basis?
Question 6. Residency Requirement
Currently, as one of the election qualifications, the Village Charter requires a person to have resided in the Village for six (6) months prior to running for office.
Shall the Village Charter be amended to require a person to continuously reside in the village for a minimum of one (1) year immediately preceding the date of such filing to qualify for the election?
Question 7. Sale and Lease of Municipal Property
Currently, the Village Charter does not require a referendum for the sale of municipal property.
Shall the Village Charter be amended to require approval by majority vote of electors in a Village wide referendum for the sale, exchange, conveyance or lease and renewal option (greater than ten years) of Village owned real property?
Question 8. Charter Review Amendments
Currently, the Village Charter does not specify a time-frame for when the Charter must be reviewed by a Charter Review Committee.
Shall the Village Charter be amended to require the Village Council to appoint a Charter Review Committee as necessary, but not less than at least once every ten years.
Question 9. Conflicting Charter Amendments
Currently, the Village Charter does not have a process for when conflicting proposed amendments are voted upon by the Village electorate.
Shall the Village Charter be amended to require that if conflicting amendments be adopted at the same election, the one receiving the greatest number of affirmative votes shall prevail to the extent of such conflict?
Question 10. Prohibition on Interference
Currently, the Village Charter does not include any prohibitions on the Council’s interference with the Village Manager’s appointment, removal or activities of Village employees.
Shall the Village Charter be amended to include that neither the Council nor any of its individual members shall dictate the appointment, removal or activities of any Village Manager appointed employees, except the Council may make requests that do not require substantial time of staff?
SUMMARY OF CRC'S RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CHARTER AMENDMENTS
The Charter Review Committee ("CRC”) presented its recommendations for twelve amendments to the Village Charter at the January 17, 2023 Village Council Meeting. The Council is required to “approve, amend or reject the recommendations of the [CRC], and by resolution adopt a final draft of the proposed … amendment …which shall be submitted to the electors” in question format on the ballot. The election is April 11, 2023.
The Village Council will hold a Charter Amendment Workshop on Wednesday, February 1, 2023 at 6 p.m. at 9900 N.E. 2nd Avenue.
CRC'S 12 RECOMMENDED CHARTER AMENDMENTS
The CRC recommended that the following twelve amendments be made in the Village Charter, which is described is the Village’s “constitution:”
technical and stylistic to fix inaccuracies, re-number and add gender neutral terms;
citizens’ bill of rights to increase the public’s rights in its interactions with the Village;
procedure for run-off elections in the event of a tie;
election affiliations to require candidates for Council to run independently of other candidates and to refrain from using joint campaign literature (does not affect endorsements of multiple candidates by third parties, individuals or organizations);
non-partisan elections to prohibit party designation of candidates on ballots or campaign literature as Florida law requires;
residency requirement to increase the six-month candidate residency requirement for continuously residing in Miami Shores to two years (note: the residency for certain Village Board appointments is one-year);
sale and lease of municipal property to require a majority of the electors to vote on the sale or lease of Village-owned property (e.g. public works land, the golf course, parks, parking lots, Village Hall, the library, etc.);
charter review amendments to set a frequency for charter review to occur at ten-year intervals from the most recent review at a minimum or more frequently, if needed;
conflicting charter amendments to add a provision that allows the charter amendment with the most affirmative votes to prevail when conflicting amendments are approved by the voters;
prohibition on interference to prohibit the Council or individual members from interfering with the Village Manager in employment decisions of any Village employees whom the Village Manager is empowered to appoint and requiring the approval by the Village Manager or delegate before a Village employee must honor the request of the Council or council member’s to undertake a task that will require substantial time;
growth management to require all growth or development in the Village preserve the Village’s single-family residential character and minimize the intrusion of incompatible development or land uses onto single family residential areas; and
height limitation to cap heights of buildings or structures in the Village to a maximum of forty feet.
VILLAGE ATTORNEY'S ADVICE
The Village Attorney advised the CRC and Council of potential legal challenges regarding the following three proposed Charter amendments:
#4 election affiliations: The VA advised that “there may be legal implications as a result of the prohibition on issuing joint campaign literature under the First Amendment;”
#6 two-year residency requirement: The VA advised that “the Village may be exposed to a legal challenge, as there are some opinions that raise concerns [sic] such qualification requirement.” At the meeting where the CRC voted to adopt the recommended amendment, the VA expressed more comfort with a one-year residency requirement due to legal decisions that upheld a one-year residency requirement; and
#12 height limitation: The VA advised against the height limit provision in the Charter on the ground that “the inclusion of land use/zoning regulations in municipal Charters could potentially expose the Village to litigation.” The VA explained this amendment was brought by the CRC at the last meeting and stated that some municipalities choose to include height restrictions.
Some council members expressed concerns about the following amendments:
#4 election affiliations: several council members opposed the prohibition of Council candidates running joint campaigns and using joint campaign literature because it would create more problems than it would solve and would make it difficult for the Village to enforce under its Charter;
#6 two-year residency requirement: several council members opposed the two-year residency requirement due to the potential legal challenge and that it may limit the choice of voters that would like new residents with experience to be able to run for Council;
#7 sale and lease of municipal property: several council members opposed such amendment for various grounds including that it would interfere with the Village’s ability to dispose of or lease property and interfere with the Village’s ability to raise revenue. License and use agreements do not afford the same protection as a lease. A council member suggested possibly requiring a supermajority vote by the Council for the sale or lease of property; limiting the need for public vote based on size or dollar amount of property; and leave flexibility to operate at least on small-scale property. Another council member suggested more defined terms; and
#11 growth management and #12 height limitation: several council members did not want the Charter to contain what they believe should be in the Comprehensive Plan or Zoning Code.
Some council members raised repetitive concerns on various proposed Charter amendments because they claim:
The Charter is difficult to amend and it should not be so restrictive as to impair the flexibility of the Village to conduct its affairs or limit the will of future resident voters who may have different issues and priorities than current resident voters.
The Comprehensive Plan has language: that protects the single-family residences; that protects and preserves natural resources and scenic beauty as contained in the proposed citizens’ bill of rights amendment; and the current amendments to the Comprehensive Plan contain height caps in Mixed Use that conflict with the height limitation amendment.
VICE MAYOR MARINBERG'S PROPOSED CHARTER AMENDMENTS
Vice Mayor Marinberg (“VM Marinberg”) suggested two new Charter amendments that were not part of the CRC’s recommendation:
1. Moving the Biennial Election Date from April to November
VM Marinberg: opined that it would provide for increased voter participation and cost-reduction by piggy-backing the general election. If moved, Miami-Dade County elections could provide a special ballot for Miami Shores Village issues such as Charter amendments and Council elections.
CRC: unanimously rejected a change of the election date for the Village from a special election in April. The Charter provides for the Village election to be held on the second Tuesday in April in odd numbered years. This year’s election is April 11, 2023.
2. Recall, initiative and referendum
VM Marinberg: expressed an interest in increasing the number of electors needed to sign a petition based on the increased population of the Village since the last Charter review in 1994.
VA: advised a Florida Statute governs.
The Charter authorizes the Council to adopt, reject or amend the Charter Amendment recommended by the CRC. However, the Council’s discretion to amend the CRC’s recommended Charter amendments may not be unlimited according to Richard Sarafan, the former Village Attorney. See Footnote 1 of the Memorandum from Richard Sarafan to the Council for the July 6, 2021 Council Meeting Agenda item regarding Discussion and Possible Action regarding a Charter review