Pinellas Board to Discuss Term Limits for Elected County Officials
The discussion will be the latest over an issue that has simmered in Pinellas for more than 20 years.
PINELLAS COUNTY – Members of the Pinellas Charter Review Commission are scheduled to discuss term limits for county officials during their Wednesday (Feb. 17) meeting.
The CRC meeting is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Legal counsel will discuss options available to the commission and aspects to consider with each option. As in all commission meetings, there will be time for public comment prior to discussion. The commission has included a period for public comment just prior to a vote on this specific topic as well. The commission meeting will be held at the Pinellas County Utilities Building, Fourth Floor, 14 S Ft. Harrison Ave., Clearwater. Where possible, signs will be posted to guide attendees to alternate parking should the utilities building parking spaces fill.
Pinellas County’s charter, or constitution, is reviewed every eight years by a Charter Review Commission (CRC) which can then place Charter amendments on the ballot for voters. The Charter Review process provides Pinellas County residents direct influence on the structure of their local government.
Independent of the Pinellas County Commission, the CRC has retained the Orlando business consulting firm Diane Meiller & Associates from Orlando to facilitate the process and the Vose Law Firm from Winter Park for legal counsel. The CRC began meeting in August 2015 and will present its final report to the citizens of Pinellas County by July of 2016. Any CRC recommended amendments to the charter will be placed on the November 2016 ballot for a vote by Pinellas County residents.
The issue of term limits for Pinellas County commissioners and the five constitutional officers stretches back to at least the mid-1990s. In 1996, a landslide 73 percent of Pinellas voters approved a charter amendment to limit commissioners and the five constitutional officers to two four-year terms. The amendment ended up in court and, in 2002, the state Supreme Court ruled that term limits were unconstitutional for some elected county officials.
About 10 years later, a different state Supreme Court case from another county seemed to give voters the right to impose term limits on elected county officials. A group of Pinellas residents sued to have that ruling enforced in Pinellas and throw four commissioners out of office who had served more than eight years since the 1996 vote. But in 2014, an appeals court ruled that the four were not bound by the 1996 vote on term limits.
For information about the CRC, go to pinellascounty.org.
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