Charter Review (2023-24)

BACKGROUND

The City Charter serves as the City’s fundamental governing document. It outlines the authority and restrictions the City has over municipal affairs. The City Charter was last reviewed and updated by vote, in 2015. City Charter Article XVIII, Section 81 – Periodic Review states:

 A Charter Review Committee consisting of at least nine (9) and no more than fifteen (15) electors of the City shall be appointed by the City Commission every eight (8) years to review the City Charter and propose any amendments or revisions, which may be advisable for placement on the regular municipal election ballot.

The City Commission shall appoint the Charter Review Committee in January of the year immediately preceding the election with a definite and specific charge. The Charter Review Committee shall meet for the purpose of organization within thirty (30) days after the appointments have been made. The Charter Review Committee shall elect a chair and vice chair from among its membership. Further meetings of the Charter Review Committee shall be held upon the call of the chair or a majority of the members of the Charter Review Committee. All meetings shall be open to the public. No Charter amendment or revision shall be submitted to the electorate for adoption unless favorably voted upon by a majority of the entire membership of the Charter Review Committee.

No later than one-hundred and eighty (180) days prior to the regular municipal election, the Charter Review Committee shall deliver to the City Commission the proposed amendments or revisions, if any, to the City Charter. Each proposed amendment shall embrace but one subject and matter directly connected therewith. The City Commission may by resolution place such amendments or revisions as approved by the Charter Review Committee on the next regular municipal election ballot. If a majority of the electors voting on the amendments or revisions favor adoption, such amendments or revisions shall become effective on January 1 of the succeeding year or such other time as the amendment or revision shall provide.

If the Charter Review Committee does not submit any proposed Charter amendments or revisions to the City Commission at least one-hundred and eighty (180) days prior to the regular municipal election, the Charter Review Committee shall be automatically dissolved. Otherwise, upon acceptance, further amendment or rejection of the proposed amendments or revisions by the City Commission, the Charter Review Committee shall be automatically dissolved.

Referendum: 

By Charter, recommendations adopted by the City Commission in accordance with Florida Statutes may be placed on an upcoming ballot for voter approval. Based upon this ballot requirement, the City Commission may decide to propose one amended Charter,  propose individual amendments, which ask the citizens of the City of Atlantic Beach to approve or reject each amendment, or it may decide not to offer any amendments for approval. Either method of amending the Charter requires ballot language to be submitted to the Duval County Supervisor of Elections.

 Issue of placing amendments on the ballot by resolution or by ordinance:

 City Attorney Jason Gabriel agrees with former City Attorney Brenna Durden’s previously issued opinion that, contrary to the City Charter, an ordinance -- rather than a resolution -- is required for placing amendments on the ballot. Section 166.031, Fl. Statutes, governs Charter amendments by municipalities. This Section reads in part as follows: “The governing body of a municipality may, by ordinance, or the electors of a municipality may, by petition......, submit to the electors of said municipality a proposed amendment to its charter, .... .” As such, Staff recommends that this matter be corrected during the Charter revision process.

Resources and more information:

  • The City Charter, including a section about the Charter Review Committee, is published at coab.us/Charter.
  • More information about the City’s 2023-24 Charter Review Committee process is published at www.coab.us/CharterReview.
  • For assistance or more information, email info@coab.us or call (904) 247-5804.