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Friday April 25th 2014

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Councilmen propose changes

Councilman Charles Bare is proposing several changes to the city’s park ordinance.

The email from Councilman Bare:

I am proposing to the parks ordinances for the City of Pensacola.

Key changes include:

1) Prohibiting smoking outside of motor vehicles on park property.
2) Setting maximum speed limit of 15 mph on park property.
3) Providing more comprehensive traffic and parking regulations which create civil citation authority for offenses such as parking on the grass or in no parking areas.
4) Replacing the former Director of Legislative Services with Director of Neighborhood Services.

See the changes: parkord

Fellow Councilman Larry Johnson wants the council to discuss eliminating Bare’s council seat and the other at-large seat held by Megan Pratt. The move would reduce the city council to seven seats. Earlier this year, Mayor Ashton Hayward had met with his followers at 5 1/2 Bar and asked them to work on two items–eliminate at-large council seats and reduce the size of the CMPA board trustees.

Johnson’s proposal appears to be in line with the mayor’s wishes. I don’t believe that the councilman was at the bar meeting but I’m certain mutual friends shared the mayor’s desires.

The original charter draft had only seven seats, but Charter Commission chair Crystal Spencer and the other commission members bended to the objections from the city council and retained the two at-large seats.

Here is Councilman Johnson’s press release:

Pensacola City Councilman Larry B. Johnson announced today that he would introduce an ordinance amending the City Charter to reduce the size of the City Council from nine to seven members, eliminating the Council’s two at-large seats. Johnson plans to introduce the measure at Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting.

“Nine council members is simply too many for a city our size,” said Johnson, noting that Pensacola is the only city in Florida with a population under 100,000 whose city council has more than 7 members. “We need to spend less time talking and more time conducting the people’s business. I hear this all the time from my constituents. We need a city council that’s more manageable and more efficient.”

The Charter Review Commission originally proposed eliminating the two at-large seats when it presented the new charter to the City Council in 2009. Johnson’s proposal would phase out the two at-large seats as term expire or are vacated. The current terms for the at-large seats expire in 2014 and 2016. Eliminating the salaries and discretionary funds of two City Council members would save taxpayers approximately $48,000.

The City Charter, adopted by voters in 2009, provides the City Council with the ability to propose amendments to the Charter by ordinance. If approved by the City Council on two readings, the amendment would then be placed on a city-wide referendum.

City Population (2010) City Council Size
North Miami Beach 41,523 7
Coral Gables 46,780 5
Bradenton 49,546 5
Pensacola 51,923 9
Sarasota 52,488 5
Homestead 60,512 7
Fort Myers 62,298 6