Live Oak —
The Live Oak Charter Review Committee held what was going to be their final meeting to determine if any recommendations on revising the city charter need to be made to the Live Oak City Council. However, a special called Charter Review Committee meeting was called for Monday night at 6:30 p.m. to revisit the recommendation that an elected police chief be added to the election ballot, and regarding the city administrator/manager designation.
After approval of the minutes, the items on the agenda were visited and discussed and voted upon. Committee member Jeanne d'Eauede was not present.
Review every 10 years
It was voted unanimously to make a recommendation to revisit the city of Live Oak charter every 10 years to determine if any revisions or updates needed to be made.
Modifications of city administrator role
The committee discussed whether some modifications of the present model charter should be implemented as stating that the city manager must live within the city and that there be a determination of education and qualification standards.
“I concur with the model as it’s written, but city council has chose a different avenue,” said committee Vice Chair Stephan Blue. “We can recommend that it be put on a ballot to see if the voters agree with city council.”
Committee Chair Tommy Jefferson said the current term city administrator was kept in the charter and Blue said that at the last meeting it was just a word and the term could be, and should be, determined by the city council as to what duties and authority the manager or administrator title carry.
“They (council) put it upon themselves to go ahead and leave it as city administrator,” said Blue. “But, I’m for it to be put on a ballot. That’s my recommendation.”
Committee member Wendell Hill recommended they change the title to city manager and state that the person must reside within the city and said certain education requirements should be placed for the position. Jefferson said the word manager suggests a broader scope of authority and operation than administrator and he believed the city council had taken it upon themselves to give the position more authority. He asked City Administrator Kerry Waldron if that was their reasoning or intent.
“The reason for this ordinance was to allow the administrator to have supervisory responsibilities as well as disciplinary responsibilities over the department heads up to, but not including termination,” said Waldron.
To clarify, Blue said by the charter’s definition, a manager would have overall authority to hire and terminate employees, “...basically, removing the city council out of the equation and that’s according to the model.”
He said many cities use that type of model, but there are also those that use a hybrid model, to pick and choose what they want.
After further discussion, it was the committee’s recommendation to leave the name city administrator in the charter, but to add the stipulation of living in the city limits and possess certain educational qualifications. They also recommend the city administrator have the authority to reprimand and discipline up to, but not including termination of employees.
Mayor position to remain?
Jefferson said he heard someone mentioning eliminating the position of mayor would save taxpayer money, but he didn’t believe it. It was Jefferson’s recommendation the position of mayor remain because he believed Mayor Sonny Nobles had done some good things for Live Oak, namely going to Tallahassee to get grants and bring money into the city. It was Jefferson’s recommendation the position remain an elected position. The rest of the committee present agreed and they voted unanimously to keep the mayor position as the current charter states.
Police department accredited
It was Blue’s desire for the committee to make the recommendation that the Live Oak Police Department be accredited. He explained to what this would entail, but not be limited to.
“You have a standard that’s set forth by the Commission for the Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation,” said Blue.
He said he wasn’t aware of what it would cost the city, but they would have to reach out to the commission and have them conduct a mock inspection to determine what areas within the police department needed improvement.
“One thing you’re looking at is a more professional organization, a more diversified agency and an agency that’s more up-to-date in technology and protocols and procedures,” said Blue.
He said the department would be held more accountable and that the agency would more fully benefit the community it serves.
Blue added that most state agencies are accredited and another benefit for being accredited was being able to get grants through federal funding.
“It’ll cost you on the front end, but you’ll reap the benefits on the back end every time,” said Blue.
He said he looks at the recruiting aspect and believes the department is not well gender or racially diversified. He also said there would be a tighter control on the handling of evidence by officers, that there would be a stricter policy of logging and turning it in properly.
“That is critical how you conduct and handle evidence. You’re dealing with someone’s life and their freedoms and liberties,” said Blue.
Blue said there were 253 different policies within the accredited standards book that came about through years of studying agencies and what could be done to improve the way they work. He said if the chief wanted it and pushed for it, he would most likely get the city to fund the accreditation process because it would be beneficial for all.
The committee voted unanimously to recommend for the Live Oak Police Department to be accredited.