Three charter amendments are on the Nov. 6 ballot for Pinecrest residents to consider. The amendments, recommended by the independent Charter Revision Commission, relate to the swearing-in date of elected officials, budget reports and leases of Village property.
Under the Village Charter, the Village Council must appoint a Charter Revision Commission of Pinecrest citizens every six years to review the document and, if necessary, recommend amendments. The 2012 commission was appointed last March and conducted several public meetings in the spring.
“The citizen-member commission thoroughly reviewed the charter at several public forums and focused on three main issues,” said chairperson Gail Serota.
The most important amendment relates to the Village Council’s goal of providing a food service establishment at Cypress Hall in Pinecrest Gardens, the former cafeteria area of Parrot Jungle. The charter provides that the Village shall not lease any parks or recreational areas for more than five years without voter approval.
The primary intent of this language was to limit commercial activities at parks. Pinecrest Gardens, however, is a multi-use botanical and entertainment venue.
In a 2010 survey of residents, 70 percent expressed support for restoring restaurant service at the facility. The fiveyear limitation would negatively affect the Village’s ability to negotiate a mutually beneficial lease. The charter review commission recommended an amendment that would provide an exception of the lease period solely for Cypress Hall, and still require a four-fifth vote of the Village Council for approval of any lease term in excess of five years.
“To put it simply, if you want to see a restaurant in Pinecrest Gardens, and do not want to see the Village have to spend one-million of your tax dollars to build out the space for a restaurant, the charter must be amended to give us the flexibility to enter into a longer lease agreement for the space,” said Mayor Cindy Lerner. “To say yes to a restaurant, say yes to the charter change.”
The second proposed Charter amendment would change the swearing-in date for newly elected Village officials. Under current law, new office holders are required to be sworn in on the day following the election. However, it generally takes several days for election results to be certified. The amendment, if passed, would require newly elected officials to take the oath of office seven business days following the certification of the election. Also, the extra time would allow winning candidates to invite family, friends and supporters to attend the swearing in ceremony.
The third proposed amendment relates to the production of a budget report. The Charter provides that the Village Manager submit a quarterly report. The manager already provides a monthly report and, therefore, the commission recommended new language so that the charter would reflect the actual practice of the current administration, which promotes greater transparency of the Village’s finances.
All registered voters of Pinecrest may cast ballots and make a decision on the proposed charter amendments.
“If you have not registered to vote for the Nov. 6 election, whether on a Pinecrest issue or the presidential election, the deadline is Oct. 9,” said Village Clerk Guido Inguanzo, the Village’s supervisor of elections.
Registration information is available by contacting the Miami-Dade Elections Department at 305-499-8363. For a copy of Pinecrest’s sample ballot, including the charter amendments and two Village Council races, go to www.pinecrestfl.gov/elections