By Rich Pollack
A handful of Highland Beach residents will soon have a chance to play an important role in shaping the town’s future.
Town leaders have begun the process of selecting residents to serve on a Charter Review Board, which will examine the town’s charter and make recommendations to the Town Commission on potential changes.
Following the review and acceptance by the commission, some or all of the proposed changes will be presented to the voters in a referendum.
“This is extremely important,” Town Manager Marshall Labadie said. “The charter establishes the foundation of our town government.”
A constitution of sorts for a town, a charter addresses everything from the makeup of the commission to term limits and, in Highland Beach, it addresses the controversial spending cap, which requires voter approval for most projects costing $350,000 or more.
The cap is expected to be one of many topics the Charter Review Board will discuss.
During a meeting in early March, commissioners agreed to accept applications from residents interested in being on the board. Five to seven residents will be appointed, with one named by each commissioner. Labadie and Town Attorney Glen Torcivia will work with the board.
“We’re going to put out a call for community volunteers who are registered voters and who have expressed an interest and also have some knowledge of town operations,” Labadie said
Applications will be available on the town’s website under advisory boards and committees or at Town Hall and should be returned no later than 4:30 p.m. on Friday, March 26. Those who are chosen should expect to serve from May until August.
Created in 1949 when the town was first established, the charter is required by state law to be reviewed at least every 10 years. That time is near in Highland Beach.
Torcivia told commissioners that changes to some provisions of the charter must be approved by referendum and that any changes to a provision that voters had previously approved must also be presented to voters.