Charter Committee to Study Whether to Require More Signatures for Petitions

Charter Review Committee Chairman George “Mackie” McCabe told commissioners last week that his advisory committee will study whether the city should make it more difficult for city voters to petition commissioners to change city ordinances—or even the charter itself.

Currently, Section 10.01 of the city’c charter allows residents to propose charter amendments “by petition signed by at least ten percent (10%) of the total number of qualified voters registered to vote in the city.” That language is directly adapted from Chapter 166.031 of the Florida Statutes governing city charters.

“We talked about the 10 percent petition requirement in detail,” McCabe told commissioners. “Ten percent is pretty low. With a population of 4,000 people that means it takes 400 signatures,” McCabe said.

He was being conservative. Only about 3,500 Fruitland Park residents are registered to vote—many of the city’s 4,000 residents are children. Once the Villages of Fruitland Park is settled, the city will have approximately 7,500 voters, requiring 750 signatures to put a charter amendment on the ballot for all city voters to decide.

Fruitland Park’s charter also allows residents to petition commissioners to enact an ordinance or rescind an ordinance already enacted. Those so-called initiative and referendum petitions must be signed by 15 percent of the city’s qualified voters.

Florida’s Constitution allows citizens to propose a constitutional amendment by petition of only eight percent of the state’s registered voters with some additional restrictions (the signatures must come from eight percent of the voters in at least half of the state’s congressional districts).

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