Wellington Council Creates Task Force To Review Charter

A five-person Charter Review Task Force will weigh in on necessary changes to Wellington’s charter after council members voted last week to establish the group.

Council members hope to put any necessary changes to the charter to a referendum on the March 2016 ballot, with task force members meeting as early as July.

“Since 1996, some of these things haven’t been talked about,” Councilman Matt Willhite said. “I think this is needed.”

Council members voted unanimously to create the task force, giving it a sunset date of Jan. 1, 2016, well after any ballot referendums would have to be submitted to the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections.

Among the appointees are former County Commissioner Ken Adams, former Village Attorney Jeff Kurtz and equestrian activist Victoria McCullough. Each member was given one appointee, for a total of five members.

Mayor Bob Margolis appointed McCullough, Willhite appointed Adams and Councilwoman Anne Gerwig appointed Kurtz, while Councilman Howard Coates appointed former Assistant Village Manager Francine Ramaglia and Vice Mayor John Greene appointed Michelle McGovern.

Greene said he wanted to be sure the group was called a task force — not a committee, as originally presented — because it will have a limited scope and time frame.

“I want to be clear that this will not be a permanent group,” he said.

Willhite agreed, noting that a task force still must have open meetings and take public input.

“These will be open meetings,” he said. “They will take public input, and they fall under the Sunshine Law.”

Further, he said, the task force can only make recommendations to the council. From there, the council must choose whether to put any recommended changes on the ballot.

“Wellington residents will have a chance to vote,” Willhite said. “We will discuss [the recommendations] and vote to put changes on the ballot, which will go to a vote. If residents don’t approve of what we’re recommending in the charter, they can vote it up or down.”

The task force recommendations will go to the council with a majority vote, Village Manager Paul Schofield said. Similarly, the ballot referendums will pass if a simple majority of residents vote for it.

Willhite suggested the task force aim for the March 2016 Wellington municipal election.

“Hopefully, we can get the task force together, get ideas, get public input and then get it before the council,” he said. “Then it can be drafted for the ballot questions and put on the March 2016 ballot.”

Gerwig asked whether there was a possibility of getting the referendum on the upcoming November election, but council members said they thought it would be too rushed.

“I don’t think it’s feasible,” Greene said. “I can’t imagine they could get through all the material and be able to get it back to the council in time for a vote.”

Gerwig then asked if there was a difference in price between a March or November election. Village Clerk Awilda Rodriguez said a municipal election costs roughly $43,000.

“If the county is having an election and we can piggyback on that, it’s less,” she said. “The majority of the cost is to hire poll workers. When there’s a November election, the county pays for that.”

But Wellington will already be shelling out for its regular municipal election, Gerwig pointed out.

Greene said one advantage to a November referendum is a higher voter turnout. “We would get more input from residents,” he said.

Willhite noted that the earliest would be November 2015, and Margolis said county elections are every two years. “It would have to be November 2016,” Margolis said.

The village election would be sooner, Willhite said. He said voters in municipal elections would have more interest in Wellington issues.

“If they’re coming to vote for their elected officials, hopefully they are interested in voting on issues related to the village,” he said.

Margolis said he expected the task force to meet for approximately a year.

Willhite asked whether there would be a staff liaison to the task force, and Schofield said it would be the village attorney’s office. “Because there are so many legal issues involved, I think it would be appropriate to be handled by that office,” he said.

Council members said they wanted a final recommendation by Aug. 1, 2015. “That will give us enough time to decide on it,” Willhite said.

Greene asked whether the task force could bring items to the council separately for decisions, but Village Attorney Laurie Cohen said that the charter is too intertwined and that one decision could affect other recommendations.

Gerwig made a recommendation to approve the resolution creating the task force, which passed unanimously.


  1. Why was this not done for Binks Golf Course before they brought down our value by allowing 90 town houses in between houses and the course will closed after they are built.Let the voter speak. Of course the question will be designed to what they want not the voter. Politics is a bad show.Time to change the channel.

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