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Public hearing on proposed Pinellas charter changes went without comment

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The first public hearing to gather public comment on proposed changes to the Pinellas County charter went swimmingly.

No one commented. And only one member of the public even showed up.

It took a bit less than 15 minutes to call the meeting of the Charter Review Commission to order, read the six proposed referenda, ask for comment and adjourn.

The CRC has one more public hearing scheduled before a final vote on their report. Then, the report and any proposed changes go to the Pinellas County Commission, then to the November ballot for voters’ approval.

The charter acts as Pinellas’ constitution, laying out the framework for the way county government operates. A charter review commission is appointed every eight years to look over the document and decide if changes should be made. Those changes are subject to voters’ approval.

The CRC is proposing six changes:

  1. Clean up charter language that is outdated or obsolete because of Constitutional law issues or passage of time.
  2. Require county commissioners to appoint CRC members who live in the commissioner’s district.
  3. Give the county’s constitutional officers – sheriff, tax collector, property appraiser, supervisor of elections and clerk of the court – say in the hiring, firing and evaluation of the county attorney.
  4. Create a redistricting board that would be convened after each census to provide recommendations on changing election boundaries to be in compliance with changes in the population.
  5. Reduce the number of signatures citizens must get on petitions to place a proposed charter amendment on the ballot and extend the time the citizen has to gather those signatures.
  6. Evaluate the estimated costs or savings of proposed changes to the charter.

The final CRC public hearing on the proposed amendments is scheduled for 6 p.m. June 15 at the Pinellas County Courthouse, 315 Court St., Clearwater.

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