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Apopka City Charter Review

Everything you need to know to participate in the Apopka City Charter Review

3rd meeting is 5 pm on Wednesday at City Hall


A Charter Defines Our City and How We Operate It 

Several paragraphs of the City of Apopka Code of Ordinances explain Apopka’s governmental existence as adopted on July 7, 1993. You have the right to tell your city council, the mayor and commissioners, how you want the charter improved. Don’t wait. The next meeting is less than two weeks away with the decision on what will be on the ballot. The council members need time to contemplate your input and that of others.

To determine your opinion, you will want to watch the previous meetings. Then, attend the March meeting in person to speak during the public comment period. 

Finding the City of Apopka Code of Ordinances

The Apopka.gov website includes a link to the full Code of Ordinances

Inside the City of Apopka Code is PART I – Charter. The Charter includes six articles. 

What Do You Need to Review?

  1. City Manager-Commission vs Mayor-Commission
    A city manager is a professional position with a specially educated individual who is interviewed and vetted for the position. In the State of Florida, for cities over the size of 60,000, forty (40) are Manager-Council forms and only eight (8) are Strong Mayor-Council.(1) Our estimated population is currently around 59,819.(2) Those 15,000-60,000 of in size, 83 are Manager-Council, but only four (4) are like us, Mayor-Council, and one (1) Hybrid. Only 50 cities, 12 %, in the entire state are Strong Mayor-Council format. The majority of those cities, 34, are under 5,000 in population. 

The manager answers to the commission and can be fired if s/he does not perform to the will and standards of the Commission. The commissioners perform to the will and desires of the citizens. It has nothing to do with a current, this mayor-that mayor, swapping issue, as insinuated in some of the banter in the meetings. It has to do with competent professional management of your City and your taxes

  • Length of Term for Commissioners and/or Mayor

Another consideration is the length of years for a term of the commissioners. Currently, it is four (4) years. Two (2) years seems too short for an officer to get their feet on the ground and for the effort of the election process to be worth it. On the other hand, four (4) years is a long time to leave a questionable or incompetent member in place. Would three years be a better option?

  • Term limits for Commissioners and/or Mayor

Are commissioners and/or mayors for life a modern option you want in place? Every day, you see news articles about officials who have been in office for decades and articles on people who are up to shenanigans, mutually exclusive or not. It is one thing for people in for decades that are honest and trustworthy but consider what happens when we are trapped indefinitely with a con artist.

Consider a three-term limit for three years, allowing the commission members (new term for Council), including the mayor, to work for us for nine years. Then a minimal three-term sabbatical, or nine years off before the next eligible election.  This will allow members to have time off to refresh themselves, spend time with their families, work on their businesses, study, or explore other venues. 

  • All Commissioners and no elected Mayor option

There are cities that do not elect a mayor separate from the commissioners. There are municipalities near us that elect council people then the group elect amongst themselves a different person each year, a person to lead the group to be the ceremonial representative of the city for events and the press. 

  • Positions ratified and dismissed by the full Council

There are a few very important positions that citizens have expressed the desire to be added to Sec. 3.01 for the Appointment section. If the form of government remains mayoral, the administrator and directors should be added to this section. These positions are extremely important and shouldn’t be at any mayor's will, politics, ethics, and emotions.       

           As written:

           Sec. 3.01. - Appointment and duties of clerk and city attorney.
The city clerk and city attorney shall be appointed by the mayor and ratified by the city council. The city clerk and city attorney shall serve at the pleasure of the mayor and the city council.

The extant Charter indicates that the City Council hires and fires the clerk and attorney. Not just the mayor. The Council is the mayor and commissioners as a unit. Thus, the mayor’s vote has no precedence over the other council members as s/he is just 1/5th of the Council. A lawyer reading this should realize the definition of the Council versus Commission in this sentence. 

If we remain a Mayor-Commission government, it could be rewritten to, 

The city clerk, city attorney, city administrator, and all department heads shall be selected by the mayor and ratified by the city council. The city clerk, city attorney, city administrator, and all department heads shall serve at the pleasure of the city council.”

If we become a Manager-Commission government it could be,

The city clerk, city attorney, and all department heads shall be selected by the manager and ratified by the city council. The city clerk, city attorney, and all department heads shall serve at the pleasure of the manager and dismissal shall be ratified by the city council.”

Whatever your position on the topics and additional content not covered, please make your feelings known to your elected officials. Email, call, fax, and/or mail them a letter now. Attend the regular commission meetings and speak in the public comment time. Attend the March Charter Review meeting and speak during comment time. 

  • Mayor Bryan Nelson

Commissioner Kyle Becker, Diane Velazquez, Nick Nesta, or Alexander Smith
City of Apopka, City Hall
120 E Main Street
Apopka, FL 32703

  • Fax 407-703-1705
  • Phone 407-703-1700
  • BNelson@Apopka.gov
  • KBecker@Apopka.gov
  • DVelazquez@Apopka.gov
  • Asmith@Apopka.gov
  • NNesta@Apopka.gov

The review committee should have been composed of citizens as well as an outside facilitator, as recommended by Beverly Winesburgh. It was self-serving for the council to decide that they alone would be the review committee and the lawyer to recommend himself as the facilitator. No other facilitators were vetted. 

Every opinion is valid, including mine. Writing to officials shouldn’t include anger, cursing, blame, or deflecting. Those behaviors do not positively reflect opinions, only personality.

Apopka City Charter Review, Opinion, OP/ED, Apopka City Council


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