Charter of the Town of Astatula

ARTICLE 1 TOWN BOUNDARIES; CORPORATE AUTHORITY

Sec. 1. Town created, boundaries

The area constituting the corporate limits of the Town of Astatula is that which is described in the legal description of Florida Statue (Laws of Florida) Chapter 59-1925, as well as all subsequent annexations. A description of the Town boundaries shall be on file with the Town Clerk.

Sec. 2. Powers of the Town

The Town shall have all powers possible for a Town to have under the Constitution and laws of this state as fully and completely as though they were specifically enumerated in this charter.

Sec. 3. Construction of powers

The powers of the Town under this Charter shall be construed liberally in favor of the Town, and the specific mention of particular powers in the Charter shall not be construed as limiting in any way the general power stated in this article.

Sec. 4. Intergovernmental Relations

The Town may exercise any of its powers or perform any of its functions and me participate in the financing thereof, jointly or in cooperation, by contract or otherwise, with any one of the more states or civil divisions or agencies thereof.

ARTICLE 2 THE TOWN COUNCIL

Sec. 1 The Town Council and Mayor

There shall be a Town Council of five (5) members, which include the Mayor, who shall be residents and electors of the town, elected by the qualified voters of the Town.

All powers of the Town shall be vested in the Town Council, except as otherwise provided by law or this Charter and the Town Council shall provide for the exercise thereof and for performance of all duties and obligations imposed on the Town by law.

Council. There shall be four (4) Council seats and one Mayor seat. A resident and elector of the Town may qualify for any of the said five seats. Members of the Town Council shall hold their seats for the term of office for which they have been elected. All five (5) member seats shall be elected for a term of two (2) years. Elections shall be conducted the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November.

  • The newly elected Council Members shall take their oath and assume office at the next regular scheduled meeting.  Seat term is 2 years commencing in December of election year, and ending November of expiration term;
  • Seats #1 and 2 will be elected in November (December 2013 for the initial year) and serve December 2013 to November 2015; and so forth continuing on in this manner;
  • Seats #3, 4, and 5 (Mayor) will be elected in November 2014 and serve from December 2014 to November 2016; and so forth continuing on in this manner;
  • With the exception of Mayor, all seats will be filled by the highest votes received to fill the appropriate number of seats.

The Town Council shall appoint a council member to act as liaison for each of the areas of town operations, including, but not limited to:

  1. Finances
  2. Public Works/ Streets
  3. Public Safety (Police Department)
  4. Legal, Grants, Land Dev, Regulation, Ordinances
  5. Code Enforcement
  6. Economic Development

It is the responsibility of the council member to ensure employees in their area adhere to the guidelines set by the council. A staff report will be provided to the council as set forth by the policy and procedure manual. The format of the report will be determined by the council.

With the exception of police officers, the Town Council has the authority (by a majority vote) to appoint and when necessary to remove any employee of the Town per the Policy and Procedure manual. The Town Council has the authority (by a majority vote) to appoint and remove the Chief of Police per Policy and Procedure manual.

Relationship. No more than one (1) family member may hold a seat on the Council or Board. A family member includes parents; siblings, children and spouses.

Compensation. The council shall set the compensation for all town employees.

Qualifications. Any persons running for Town Council or Mayor must be at least 21 years of age, a registered voter, property owner, and resident of the Town for at least (1) year prior to the first day of the qualifying period. Candidate nominating petitions for Town Council elections shall be filed with the Town Clerk no earlier than noon, the 92nd day prior to the date of the general or special election, but not later than noon on the 81st day prior to the date of the general or special election date for which qualifying is being sought. (ORD. 2014-A)

Mayor.

The registered voters of the Town shall elect the Mayor for a period of two years. The Mayor shall preside at meetings of the council, and shall have the power to enforce such rules as may be adopted by the council for its government, shall be recognized as the head of the town government for service of process, execution of contracts, deeds and other documents, and as the town official designated to represent the town in all agreements with other governmental entities or certifications to other governmental entities.  The Council shall appoint a Council Member to act as Vice-Mayor. The Vice-Mayor shall act as Mayor during the absence or disability of the Mayor.

Sec. 2. Vacancies; Forfeiture of Office; Filling of Vacancies

Vacancies.  The Mayoral seat and/or Council Member seat shall become vacant upon death, resignation, or removal from office in any manner authorized by law or forfeiture of the office, such forfeiture to be declared by the remaining members of the council.

Forfeiture of Office. The Mayor or a Council Member shall forfeit office if the member: 1) fails to meet residency requirements; 2) is convicted of a felony; 3) Violates the express provisions of the charter; or 4) fails to attend 3 consecutive regularly scheduled council meetings without council approval. The Town Council may declare a seat vacant where any member has failed to meet the requirements stated above.

Filling Vacancies. Should a vacancy occur on the Town Council, the Mayor shall appoint an elector of the town to fill the vacancy. This appointment is subject to the approval by a majority of the members of the Town Council. The appointee approved in such a manner shall serve in the office until the next general town election.  If a vacancy occurs in the position of Mayor, the Vice-Mayor shall fill the vacancy until the next scheduled election.

Holding Other Office.

Except where authorized by law, no Mayor or Council Member shall hold any other elected public office during the term for which they Mayor or Member was elected.

No Council Member or Mayor shall hold any other town office or town employment during the term for which the member was elected.

Council members desiring to run for Mayor must submit their resignation prior to the 1st day of qualifying to run for another position to the Town Clerk. Candidate nominating petitions for Town Council elections shall be filed with the Town Clerk no earlier than noon, the 92nd day prior to the date of the general or special election, but not later than noon on the 81st day prior to the date of the general or special election date for which qualifying is being sought. (ORD. 2014-A). Any member may qualify upon receiving signatures of 1% of the registered electors of the Town as shown for the last proceeding general election or may pay a $50.00 filing fee.

PROCEDURE

  1. Meetings. The council shall meet regularly at least once in every month at such times and places as the council may prescribe by rule. The special scheduled meetings shall be held on the call of the Mayor, or the Council with a 72 hour notice (except in case of extreme emergency).
  2. Rules. The council shall determine its own rules and order of business. Roberts Rule of Order may be applicable.
  3. Voting. Voting on ordinances and resolutions shall be by roll call and shall be recorded in the minutes. A majority of the council shall constitute a quorum, but may adjourn from time to time and may compel the attendance of absent members in a manner and subject to the penalties prescribed by the rules of the charter. No action of the council shall be valid or binding unless adopted by the affirmative vote of the majority of a quorum present.
  4. Compensation. The council may determine the compensation of the Mayor and Council Members by ordinance, the ordinance increasing such compensation shall become effective October 1st of the next budget year. The Mayor and Council Members shall receive their actual and necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties of office.

Sec. 3. Financial Procedures.

  1. Fiscal year. The fiscal year of the Town shall begin on October 1 of each year and end on September 30 of the following year.
  2. Budget. The budget shall provide a complete financial plan of all town funds and activities for ensuing fiscal year and, except as required by law or the Charter, shall be in such a form as the Town Clerk deems desirable or the council may require. In organizing the budget, the Town Clerk shall receive from each department their budget request by July 1st, with the first budget meeting being held within 15days of the July council meeting. It shall begin with a clear general summary of its contents; shall show in detail all estimated income, indicating the proposed tax levy, and all proposed expenditures, including debt service, for the ensuing fiscal year; and shall be so arranged as to show comparative figures for actual and estimated income and expenditures of the current fiscal year and actual income and expenditures for the preceding fiscal year.
  3. Supplemental appropriations. If, during the fiscal year, the Town Clerk certifies that there are available for appropriation revenues in excess of those estimated in the budget, the council by resolution may make supplemental appropriations for the year up to the amount of such excess.
  4. Reduction of appropriations. If at any time during the fiscal year it appears probable to the Town Clerk that the revenues available will be insufficient to meet the amount appropriated, the Town Clerk shall report to the council immediately, indicating the estimated amount of the deficit, any remedial action taken by the Town Clerk and recommendations as to any other steps to be taken. The council shall then take such further action as it deems necessary to prevent or minimize any deficit and for that purpose it may, by resolution, reduce one (1) or more appropriations.
  5. Transfer of Appropriations. Upon written request by the Town Clerk or by action of the town council, the town council may, by resolution transfer part or all of any unencumbered appropriation balance among programs within a department, office, or agency or to another department, office or agency.

Sec. 4. Administrative.

Town Clerk

The Town Clerk shall be responsible to the council for the proper administration of the Town as stated by the Town Council and to the end may be required to:

  1. Attend all council meetings and shall have the right to take part in discussion but may not vote.
  2. See that all laws, provisions of this Charter and acts of the council are faithfully executed.
  3. Perform such other duties as are specified in this Charter or maybe be required by the council.
  4. He/she shall be required to furnish bond in such amount as may be required by the Town Council; which shall be paid for by the Town.
  5. Prepare the budget annually and submit it to the council and be responsible for its administration after adoption, subject to guidelines established by the town council.
  6. Submit to the council and make available to the public a complete report on the finances and administrative activities of the Town as of the end of each fiscal year.
  7. Keep the council fully advised as to the financial condition and future needs of the Town and make such recommendations to the council concerning the affairs of the Town as may be deemed desirable or necessary.
  8. Sign contracts on behalf of the Town pursuant to the provisions of appropriations, ordinances, guidelines established by council.
  9. The Town Clerk shall conduct all town elections.
  10. Additional duties as set forth by the Council in the Policy and Procedure manual.

Temporary Absence

The Town Council shall appoint a temporary replacement to exercise the powers and perform the duties of any town administrative office during a temporary absence or disability. During such absence or disability, the council may revoke such designation at any time and appoint another individual to serve until the employee returns to active employment.

Fire Department

The Town may create their own Fire Department. One officer will have the title of Fire Chief. The Fire Chief will report directly to the Town Council and shall be responsible for the administrative responsibilities of the fire department as well as the conduct and performance of the other firefighters.

Police Department

The Town shall a police department. One officer will have the title of Chief of Police. The Chief will report directly to the Town Council and shall be responsible for the administrative responsibilities of the police department as well as the conduct and performance of the other officers.

Public Works Director

The Public Works Director shall be responsible for the management and operation of the public works department as set forth by the policy and procedure manual. The duties of the Public Works Director shall include but are not limited to construction improvements, repair and maintenance of town facilities (including parks, playgrounds, cemetery and public facilities). The Public Works Director shall report directly to the Town Council. The Council shall have the authority to hire, terminate or discipline the Director by a majority vote as per the policy and procedure manual.

Town Attorney

The Town may contract with an attorney in good standing with the Florida Bar to provide legal services to the Town. The attorney shall be a licensed, practicing attorney. The Attorney shall serve as legal advisor to the Town in all its legal matters, and when such advice is desired, the council will make request for the same, and said advice shall be submitted by the Town Attorney in writing to the Town Council. The Attorney shall represent the Town in cases appealed for the municipal court or enforcement of the Town Code of Ordinances of the Town of Astatula, to the appropriate court. The Town Attorney may be appointed as a Special Prosecutor to prosecute town ordinances or may contract with the state attorneys office or other third party to prosecute. The Council Members shall determine and contract for the amount of compensation. It shall be the Attorney’s duty to prepare and draft ordinances, legal papers pertaining to bonding issues, and other matters for the municipal government.

ARTICLE 3 ZONING AND PLANNING

Sec. 1 Town Policies

The Council shall adopt, and may from time to time, modify policies to govern the physical development of the Town. Any changes or modifications shall be presented by the council at public hearings prior to its adoption, with proper notification to citizens as prescribed in the Town’s LDR’s.

Sec. 2 Land Use and Development

The Council shall by ordinance adopt regulations for the use and development of all areas within the Town including but not limited to those for the preservation of health, ecological, aesthetic, and historic values; to prevent accidents and fires; to minimize potential wind and storm damage; to control the circulation, storage and parking of motor vehicles, and for other reasons which contribute to the well-being of residents.

Sec. 3 Zoning and Planning Board

A zoning and planning board shall be provided by Ordinance.

ARTICLE 4 MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS

Sec. 1 Qualified Voters

For Town elections, any person (18) years or older, who is a registered voter, registered at least 3-days prior to the election, residing in the Town of Astatula at the time of a municipal election shall be deemed a qualified elector authorized to vote in such municipal elections.

Sec. 2 Actions against the Town

No action shall be maintained against the Town for damage, injury, death or other loss arising out of accident, or the alleged failure to keep in proper condition any public properties or places, or any alleged or imputed negligence of the Town or any of its officers or employees unless:

(1) It shall appear that the loss was proximately caused by negligence of the Town or some town officer or employee; and

(2) Written notice of such loss shall have been given to the Town Clerk within (15) days after the occurrence of the accident or other event causing the loss by the injured party or their agent or attorney; and

(3) Such notice contains such reasonable specifications as to the time, place and witnesses as will enable the Town to investigate the matter.

The Town may make such reasonable settlement or any such loss as may be agreed upon by the Council.

(State Law Reference – Waiver of sovereign immunity for tort actions, F.S. 768.28)

Sec. 2 Charter Amendments and Revisions

The Charter may be amended in accordance with Florida Statute 166.031 or its successor which provides for Amendment of Municipal Charters.

Sec. 3 Conflicting Laws

All municipal laws or parts thereof, ordinances or regulations insofar as they conflict with or are inconsistent with the provisions of this Charter shall be and the same are hereby repealed.

Sec. 4 Severability

If any article, section or portion of article or section of this Charter shall be held invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction, such holding shall not affect the remainder of this Charter nor the context in which such article, section or portion of any article or section so held invalid may appear, except to the extent that an entire article or part of a section maybe inseparably connecting (connected) in meaning and effect with that portion of this Charter to which the holding shall directly apply.

Sec. 5 Legality

Any section of any article is invalid or is otherwise  prohibited by Federal or State Statutes in automatically repealed. When it app decision of a court of last resort invalidates an equivalent provision of this Charter, such statute or decision shall automatically repeal such individual provision without the necessity of amending this Charter, unless such amendment is otherwise deemed necessary and advisable.

Sec. 6 Ordinances Remain In Force

All ordinances of the Town now in force and which are not in conflict with the provisions of this Charter, the Constitution and Laws of the United States and the State of Florida shall be and remain Ordinances of the Town, until altered, amended, modified or repealed by the Town Council.