Charter Review Board members to review entire Charter with eye to recommending clarifications or updated language reflecting modern practices

Joe Justice to chair three-person group

At the suggestion of Sarasota County Charter Review Board member Joe Justice of North Port, the members of that elected board will undertake a review this year of all of the sections of the Sarasota County Charter.

Addressing his colleagues during their regular meeting on Jan. 25, Justice pointed out, “It’s been a while since we’ve actually reviewed the whole Charter, and I was just thinking that this might be a good time …”

The goal, he continued, is “to see if anything has changed over the course of time” that needs to be addressed.

For example, Justice indicated that language in certain sections may be outdated. Something that the Charter may refer to as being done by hand, he said, perhaps is being handled more efficiently by modern technology.

“I’m not looking to make a wholesale change to the Charter or anything like that,” Justice said. Clarifications were his goal, he noted.

“I get your point,” Chair David Samuel of Venice replied, adding that the latest copy of the Charter that the board members had received was issued in February by the Office of the Sarasota County Clerk of the Circuit Court and County Comptroller.

A new member of the board, Clayton Taylor of Nokomis, added, “I’m kind of curious about which parts have survived recent court or legislative action …”

When Samuel asked whether Justice was proposing that the board members review one or more sections at each of their meetings this year, Justice replied that he was thinking each person should just read the document and “see if what’s written there is good for the time we’re in right now.”

After further discussion, the board members agreed to appoint three people to a committee to review the sections and then bring up recommendations for any changes.

Another new member, Jack Miller of Sarasota, added that he would like to have the Charter Review Board look at charters from other counties in Florida, as those documents might include better ways of handling certain actions than the Sarasota Charter does.

Justice ended up making the motion for the committee to undertake the work he had proposed, and Ray Collins of Sarasota seconded it.

After the motion won unanimous approval, Samuel appointed Justice, Miller and yet another new member, Andrew Kirby of Venice, to serve on the committee, with Justice as chair.

Justice proposed that the committee members meet an hour before the Charter Review Board’s next regular meeting, which is scheduled for 6 p.m. on May 17 in the County Commission Chambers of the County Administration Center in downtown Sarasota.

County staff will designate a room for the committee’s use, further discussion indicated.

Sarah Blackwell, the assistant county attorney who serves as the board attorney, pointed out that any other members of the Charter Review Board would be allowed to attend the committee meeting.

“Anybody that wants to come in, feel free,” Justice added.

In other business during the Jan. 25 meeting, the members elected Kennedy Legler of Sarasota as chair, starting with the May 17 meeting; Collins was named vice chair. They were the only members nominated for those positions.

As noted on the Sarasota County website, “The Charter Review Board reviews and proposes changes to the Sarasota County Charter which are submitted to referendum in accordance with the provisions of Article VI of the Charter. An affirmative vote of two-thirds of the Charter Review Board members is required to submit amendments to referendum.”