(ran PW, PS editions)
An advisory board wants elected officials to consider changing City Council term limits on Tuesday from two years to three.
As it stands, New Port Richey's mayor and four council members can be elected three times to a two-year term for a maximum of six years in office. The change, recommended by the Charter Ordinance Advisory Board, would enable them to serve for three, three-year terms for a total of nine years. The terms would be staggered so that all seats would not be up for election at once.
City Council members are scheduled to discuss that item at a 7:30 p.m public meeting along with other proposals, including a recommendation to extend candidate residency requirements from six to 12 months. Also up for review is a proposal allowing the use of a candidate's nickname, such as Ginny Miller or Bob Langford, on election ballots instead of the full name.
If the changes are adopted, an ordinance to approve the amended charter would appear as a referendum on the April 13 ballot.
"We're presenting this whole new charter," said Terry Andrews, a member of the board that is made up of five members and two alternates. Work began early this year. The charter is reviewed every 10 years per a 1994 referendum.
The bulk of the board's changes are geared toward city elections and clearing up "legalese," said member and former chairman Jim Schuh.
Extending the term limits is meant to improve efficiency, he said. The changes would not affect current council members.
"This is my observation over the last 10 years," Schuh said. "The person elected for their first year is learning the ropes."
Members usually spend their second year campaigning.
"We think we could get more efficiency out of the council members if they could serve a lot longer," he said.
Although it will not be a part of Tuesday's discussion, the advisory board has postponed its discussion on relaxing city rules to allow alcohol sales before 1 p.m. on Sundays until Pasco County renders a policy decision on the issue.
Also on hold is a proposal to allow alcohol sales in Sims Park during events.
"We're trying to work something out . . . but have it controlled," Andrews said. "But there's nothing coming up in Sims Park until Chasco (Fiesta) so there's no hurry."