Orange County Charter Questions on Ballot
At the end of Orange County’s historically long ballot, voters will find four proposed Orange County Charter questions to amend our local charter. These measures directly impact our policies here in town. Here are the proposed questions and a short summary.
QUESTION #1 Local Method Filling Vacancies in Office of Commissioner and Mayor When Authorized Under Florida Law
Shall the Orange County Charter be amended to prescribe, when authorized under Florida law, a method for locally filling offices of Commissioner and Mayor during vacancy or suspension, providing generally for appointment by the Board of County Commissioners to fill vacant and suspended offices until the next general election, and for special election to fill the vacant office of Mayor where the Mayor’s remaining term exceeds one year? Financial impact: special election cost for Mayor.
This addresses the issue of when a local elected official leaves their post early. It would be the first step in limiting the power of the Governor in choosing a replacement for open seats on the Orange County Commission. Recently, this became a hot local issue when Commissioner Mildred Fernandez was arrested and replaced by then-Governor Charlie Crist by Lui Damiani. Governor Rick Scott then appointed John Martinez. Both picks angered the local community as these were political choices, not representative of the community.
This amendment would only be the first step in creating a “local method” of filling vacancies, and would require action by the state legislature. However, supporters believe passage will send a clear signal to Tallahassee.
QUESTION #2 County Charter Amendment Changing Due Date of Charter Review Commission’s Report
Shall the Orange County Charter be amended to change the due date of the Orange County Charter Review Commission’s report to a date no later than the last day for qualifying for election to county office? No financial impact.
This is simply asking voters if they believe the Charter Review Committee should have an earlier deadline to complete its work. The Supervisor of Elections supports this move so their office will have more time to prepare ballots.
QUESTION #3 Effect Within Municipalities of County Ordinances Concerning Simulated Gambling or Gambling
Shall the Orange County Charter be amended to provide that Orange County ordinances shall be effective within municipalities and prevail over municipal ordinances when Orange County sets stricter minimum standards for prohibiting or regulating simulated gambling or gambling? Financial impact: no county impact; impact cannot be determined for municipalities and citizens.
This addresses gambling in municipalities in Orange County, mainly addressing internet cafes and video poker which often pop up in strip malls. If this passes, Orange County ordinances and prohibitions would overrule other municipal ordinances that are less restrictive on these forms of gambling throughout Orange County.
QUESTION #4 County Charter Amendment Authorizing Designation of Unincorporated Villages and Creation of Village Advisory Boards
Shall the Orange County Charter be amended to provide that, upon petition and approval at referendum by the electors of an unincorporated US Census Designated Place with population exceeding 25,000, such area shall be designated an unincorporated “village,” with an appointed village advisory board having such powers, duties, and functions as set forth by charter and ordinance? Annual financial impact: approximately $31,000 per board.
This question has become a little controversial in some local circles. It would create new boards of representation for large areas in unincorporated Orange County, exceeding a population of 25,000, including Pine Hills and three other areas in Orange County. These “villages” would have a slightly larger voice, and be able to advise the Commission.
However, many are upset with the population limit set on above 25,000 as many historical areas in Orange County simply will not be able to grow to that size, but have no voice. Another problem is that this question creates an appointed advisory board, meaning the same Commission will choose these slots. This could create an additional barrier between voters and their commissioners and leave more room for excuses instead of action.
A similar measure was proposed in 2004 and narrowly lost with 52% of voters against it, however in the Pine Hills community a majority of voters had approved it.
SPECIAL REFERENDUM: Requiring County and Municipal Approval of Zoning or Comprehensive Plan Amendments Affecting Overcrowded Public Schools
Shall the Orange County Charter provision be re-approved to allow the continued effectiveness of the ordinance requiring that rezonings or comprehensive plan amendments (or both) (1) that increase residential density in an overcrowded school zone and (2) for which the school district cannot accommodate the expected additional students, take effect only upon approval by each local government located within the boundaries of that school zone?
This question is mandated by the charter, and would continue a rule that was implemented in 2004 to require both city and county approval when developers want to build in current overcrowded school districts that run through both city and unincorporated County area.