Council looks to put term extensions on the ballot

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The City of Zephyrhills Charter Review Committee, made up of the members of City Council, recommended changes to the city’s charter to themselves and then they approved them.

Still with me?

The process of amending the city’s charter calls for the Charter Review Committee to recommend any changes to city council. Once approved, they will be headed to be placed on the April 11, 2023 ballot allowing the voters to decide if they agree with council’s recommendations.

So, in short, council reviewed the charter, determined what they want to change and then unanimously voted to have it placed on the ballot. The city attempted to create a charter review committee that included city residents, but there was limited interest.

Here’s where it gets more interesting. Several recommended charter amendments are related to extending the length of terms for members of city council and the mayor.

Currently, members of city council and the mayor are elected to three-year terms. The charter amendments related to the terms calls for extending the terms to four years. Less than a decade ago, the terms were two years.

The council seats and the mayor’s post are up for election in April of 2023 and will become four-year terms if the charter amendment is approved by the voters. The same will follow for the elections in 2024 and 2025.

City council president Jodi Wilkeson said the advantages of extending the terms to four years are to maintain continuity between terms and save the city expenses of municipal elections.

“It reduces the cost to the city to hold elections and increases of the continuity,” Wilkeson said. “People say we should have term limits. We do have term limits; every four years.”

Some members of council also see a by-product of four-year terms where they get the convenience of not  having to campaign for re-election as often.

In addition, a charter amendment was accepted to convene a charter review committee every 10 years instead of every five years.

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