By Dan Moffett
Mayor Gene Adams and Town Manager Bill Thrasher have been working to drive down the costs of holding a March 9 special election to consider a ballot referendum that would give Briny Breezes its first real town charter.
Their efforts are paying off.
Adams told the Town Council during its meeting on Jan. 28 that the town had secured a $2,000 grant from the political action committee People for Coastal Common Sense to reduce the election expense.
Also, Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Wendy Sartory Link has agreed to create a new rate schedule category for very small municipalities and charge them less.
“We’re beyond small,” Adams said. “We are now micro.”
Taken together, the two developments should keep the town’s cost for the election somewhere “well under budget,” Adams said. Council members had worried that the expense could rise above $10,000, but that appears unlikely now.
Because no candidates came forward to challenge council incumbents in the March 9 vote, Briny is required to pay the supervisor the cost of running the election on the charter amendments. The council had voted to postpone the amendment vote until the next statewide election to save the money, but reversed the decision during a Dec. 22 special meeting after Thrasher objected.
The amendments, the result of six months of work by a citizens committee, outline procedures for governing Briny through a formal charter — something the town hasn’t had since its incorporation as a municipality in 1963.
Most of the charter proposal simply restates practices that the town already has in place. Two of the most significant changes are a measure that makes the job of town clerk an appointed position, rather than elected, and a section that defines the role of the town manager, a position created just three years ago.
In other business:
• Town Attorney Keith Davis showed the council the first draft of a proposed ordinance that seeks to bring the town’s sign codes in line with recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions protecting free speech.
Davis said the ordinance would restrict the “time, place and manner” of temporary signs — for example, those for political campaigns, garage sales, real estate agents, birthday parties, etc. — but would not restrict content. Permanent signs would not be affected. Davis, who helped rewrite sign ordinances for Manalapan and other municipalities, said “this is bar none the most difficult thing to regulate I have ever encountered.”
Council members said they would review the draft and discuss possible revisions at their upcoming meetings.
• Briny is looking for a Plan B to throttle down Intracoastal watercraft traffic that is sending damaging high wakes into the town’s marina.
Thrasher said he had hoped to partner with Ocean Ridge, Delray Beach or other neighboring municipalities in a consortium to persuade state officials to slow down vessels. But he told the council that larger communities have decided to appeal individually to the state for relief, so Briny is on its own.
Council members decided to monitor the progress of other communities and hope for a path forward. Ú