By Dan Moffett
Briny Breezes voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum in the March 9 municipal election that gives the town its first formal charter.
The vote was 96 to 8, a 92.3% endorsement of the new rules for governance.
The approval is the culmination of a long, often difficult process that went on through most of 2020. A citizens charter committee worked for six months developing the changes, and then it took several meetings of the Town Council to get the referendum on the ballot.
Because no candidates or other issues were contested, Briny had to pay the cost of a special election. A $2,000 grant from the political action committee People for Common Sense reduced those costs, and county election officials agreed to work with the town on minimizing expense, holding the cost to $1,448, according to Town Clerk Sandi DuBose — a relief for council members who worried the price tag could have been several times higher.
Besides outlining relatively minor procedural and administrative rules, the charter defines the job of town manager and makes the Briny clerk an appointed position, not elected.
Alderwoman Sue Thaler, who was unopposed in the March election, was the council’s choice to fill the role of president again.
“I’m happy to volunteer, but would love to see somebody else want the position,” Thaler said.
She joined the council’s 4-0 vote, with Chick Behringer absent, to appoint her to the job she has held for seven years.
In other business:
• The council scheduled a special meeting for 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 13, to consider second readings of two ordinances — one sets new guidelines for using a magistrate to resolve code disputes, and the other concerns the town’s long-term water supply plan.
• Council members told Town Manager William Thrasher to research collaborating with the corporation to resolve the town’s water main issues, and to explore “piggy-backing” with an existing contract the town of Gulf Stream is using to hire a contractor. Thrasher said that last year, during a six-month period, there were three water main breaks on Mallard Drive, and he warned of a possible wider problem throughout the town: “We don’t know if the other water mains might start going out, too.”
• Town Attorney Keith Davis told the council he has revised a draft of an ordinance to update sign code language. Davis said the proposed language “is as close as I can get it” to mirroring sign rules enforced by the corporation. A first reading of the proposed ordinance could come at the council’s next regular meeting, on April 22. Ú