SEBASTIAN – No one from the public spoke out during the first of two public hearings on proposed changes to Sebastian’s charter documents, though nine people attended.
“We want your input,” Charter Review Committee Chair Louise Kautenburg said, urging the audience members to participate. “We’re not reinventing the wheel,” she added, explaining that many of the changes are necessary to keep the charter current.
Four students, three Sebastian residents and two Sebastian City Council members attended the hearing, each flipping through a handout containing the proposed changes and following along as the committee read through its proposal.
A second public hearing is scheduled for May 26 at 6 p.m. and, like Thursday’s hearing, will be televised live on Sebastian’s Comcast channel.
After the second hearing, the committee will decide whether to make changes to its proposal before presenting it to the Sebastian City Council for consideration.
If the council signs off on the changes, then City Attorney Robert Ginsburg will craft the ballot language and submit it to the Supervisor of Elections to place on the November ballot for city residents to vote on.
Sebastian voter and mom Diana Diedrich attended the hearing with her son, Curtis, a ninth grader at Indian River Charter High, who needed to attend a government meeting for a class.
He said it was “interesting” to hear the proposed changes and he thought it was good the committee was looking to remove outdated language, such as poor-houses, slaughterhouses and dairies, which no longer exist in the city.
His mom said it was apparent the committee had put in the time reviewing the charter and thought through the changes it wants to make.
As for the committee’s proposal to extend the term for the city council and add term limits, Diedrich said she could support it.
“I’m good with it,” she said.
Diedrich said she could understand why the committee would consider extending the council’s term from two years to four because it would save the city money as well as provide more stability and continuity.
“Obviously, it could bring up issues if the council member does not perform,” she said.
She also said she thought it interesting that council members who serve two consecutive terms could sit out a term and then run again for office.
“It’s an elections process,” Diedrich said, adding if voters want that former council member back they could vote to do so.