Lox Groves Voters Reject Town’s Bond Issue Charter Amendment

Loxahatchee Groves voters soundly defeated a referendum question Tuesday asking whether they would consent to allow the town to issue bonds that would be paid off over more than three years.

Question 3, intended to allow the town to issue bonds for road improvements to be paid off with gas tax revenue, failed with 66.5 percent (294 votes) against to 33.5 percent (148 votes) in favor.

Two other Loxahatchee Groves referendum questions passed.

Question 1, asking to change the makeup of the town’s election canvassing board, passed 71.85 percent (314 votes) to 28.15 percent (123 votes). The change removes Loxahatchee Groves Town Council members from the canvassing board and designates board members as the town clerk and two people appointed by council resolution.

Question 2, allowing the duties of the town manager contract to be amended by ordinance, passed 52.3 percent (226 votes) to 47.7 percent (206 votes).

Mayor Dave Browning said he was happy that the first two questions passed and that the town would still be able to work on road improvements, possibly holding a more specific referendum tying road improvements to gas tax money.

“The first one passed, and that basically streamlined our ability to deal with the elections and the canvassing board, where we do that with staff rather than council members,” Browning said.

The second question clears up questions about town manager policy.

Town Manager Bill Underwood said the charter currently requires that the town must hire managers credentialed by the International City Managers Association.

“In the charter, it said the town needed to hire ICMA-credentialed managers,” Underwood said. “The reason that’s somewhat important is there is a very small pool. I think it’s less than 20,000 managers in the entire United States who hold that credential. I am one, but that’s neither here nor there, so in the future, when I leave and they have someone who’s really good, but he or she is not a credentialed manager, they would be capable of hiring one if they pick up someone like an assistant city manager who is not credentialed but has experience.”

Underwood added that the number of municipalities in the United States far exceeds the number of credentialed managers. “If they want a credentialed manager, they can put that in an ordinance that describes what they want, rather than in the charter,” he said.

Underwood added that another thing that is supposed to be happening is that the manager is supposed to be the signer of all checks.

“Since I have been here, the manager has never signed a check,” he said. “It has always been the town council. The charter said it should be with the manager, so that is changed so that if in the future, the council wants to do that, they can, but it’s not mandated by the charter.”

Underwood said the overall effect is that it gives the town more flexibility.

On the third question, the referendum that failed would have allowed the council or any future council to borrow money.

“That was kind of against the original charter because the founding members wanted to make sure the town never went into debt,” Browning said. “We can still come to the town with specific items, where we would be able to borrow money for the roads and repay it with the gas tax money. We could still do that. It would have to come before the voters. Each [bond issue question] would have to be brought to the voters, and that is still in effect.”