On Monday, March 8th, the Fort Walton Beach Watch Group officially turned in their petitions to the Okaloosa Supervisor of Elections. The Watch Group was formed after the passing of the Fire Assessment Fee and opposes the fee.
The group had been actively seeking petition signatures for their three charter amendments and had to get 1,315 signatures for each of the three petitions. Here are the counts for each petition:
- Fire Assessment Fee – 1,461
- Responsible Budget – 1,445
- Limiting Elected Officials Compensation – 1,433
“I audited them [petitions] myself the day before we turned them in,” said Travis Smith at the city council meeting this past Tuesday. “There will probably be a few names coming off of that, but there won’t be anywhere near 10%, maybe 2%, according to the Supervisor of Elections based off the way we did this.”
The newly elected city council-member told the sitting council that “running for city council was a hell of a lot easier” than getting the petitions signed.
“I think it’s about time that we give the residents their voice,” continued Smith. “And just because these three things are on a ballot, doesn’t mean the citizens are gonna vote for it. I don’t know what’s going to happen. You don’t know what’s going to happen, but we know it’s going to get brought to a vote.”
What’s next: According to Smith, the Supervisor of Elections will certify the results over the next 2-3 weeks. A special election could be scheduled once certified but nothing is set as of this moment.
More background: Here is what each petition was for.
➡️ No special assessments shall be levied, or if existing be re-imposed, by the City against any real property unless the procedures to make such levy has been invoked by a petition submitted to the City Council bearing the bona fide signatures of the majority of the owners of record, as of the date of submission, of the property to be assessed.
➡️ The Fort Walton Beach Council shall not adopt any annual budget which would result in an increase from the Base Budget hereinafter described in any one year of more than three percent (3%) or the percentage increase, if any, in the Consumer Price Index for the previous year, whichever is less, without approval of a majority of the electors of the City voting thereon at a general or special election called for purposes of such approval. The “Base Budget” shall initially be $41,714,146, the budget adopted by the City for FY 2018-2019. Thereafter the “Base Budget” shall be the most recently adopted budget.
➡️ No elected official shall receive any compensation, including without limitation a salary or other item of financial benefit, nor for any services rendered by the member to the City. This prohibition shall not preclude reimbursement for expense actually incurred in the performance of their duties.