Powers Reserved to the People: Initiative and Recall; Limitations on Indebtedness and Ad Valorem Taxation
Section 5.1 Initiative
The electors of Brevard County shall have the right to initiate County ordinances in order to establish new legislation that is not in conflict with the State Constitution, general law or this Charter, and to amend or repeal existing ordinances when such amendments or repeal are not in conflict with the State Constitution or general law, upon petition signed by a number at least equal to five percent (5%) of electors qualified to vote in the last preceding general election; provided that the number shall contain at least five percent (5%) of the qualified electors in each of at least three Commission election districts.
5.1.1 Procedure for Petition
The sponsor of an initiative shall, prior to obtaining any signatures, submit the text of a proposed ordinance or Charter amendment to the Supervisor of Elections, with the proposed ballot summary and the form on which signatures will be affixed and obtain a dated receipt therefore. The allowable period for obtaining signatures on the petition shall be completed not later than nine (9) months after the initial receipt of the petition by the Supervisor of Elections. The sponsor shall thereupon submit signed and dated forms to the Supervisor of Elections and upon submission shall pay all fees required by general law. The Supervisor of Elections shall within sixty (60) days verify the signatures thereon, or specify a reason for the invalidity of each rejected signature if the petition is rejected for insufficiency of the number of valid signatures. If the petition is rejected for insufficiency of the number of signatures, the sponsor shall have an additional thirty (30) days within which to submit additional signatures for verification. The Supervisor of Elections shall, within thirty (30) days verify the additional signatures. In the event sufficient signatures are still not acquired, the petition initiative shall be rendered null and void and none of the signatures may be carried over onto another identical or similar petition.
5.1.2 Consideration by Board of County Commissioners
Within sixty (60) days after the requisite number of names has been verified by the Supervisor of Elections and reported to the Board of County Commissioners, the Board of County Commissioners shall give notice and hold a public hearing on the proposed ordinance according to law and vote on it. If the Board fails to enact the proposed ordinance, it shall by resolution, call a referendum on the question of the adoption of the proposed ordinance to be held at the next general election occurring at least forty-five (45) days after the adoption of such resolution. If the question of the adoption of the proposed ordinance is approved by a majority of those registered voters voting on the question, the proposed ordinance shall be declared by resolution of the Board of County Commissioners to be enacted and shall become effective on the date specified in the ordinance, or if not so specified, on January 1 of the succeeding year. The Board of County Commissioners shall not amend or repeal an ordinance adopted by initiative, without the approval of a majority of the electors voting at a referendum called for that purpose.
5.1.3 Limitation on ordinances by initiative
The power to enact, amend or repeal an ordinance or amend this Charter by initiative shall not include ordinances or provisions relating to the existing County budget, existing debt obligations, existing
capital improvement programs, salaries of non-elected County officers and employees, the collection of taxes, or the rezoning of less than five percent (5%) of the total land area of the County.
Section 5.2. Recall
The County Commissioners shall be subject to recall as provided by general law. Any elected County officer named in Section 4.2 of this Charter may be recalled in the manner provided by general law for removal of a County Commissioner of a charter county. A successor to the unexpired term of any recalled commissioner or elected County officer shall be elected in the manner provided by general law for filling of vacancies in office after recall in charter counties.
Section 5.3. Limitation on Debt or its Equivalent
In addition to the limitations on general obligation debt imposed by the State Constitution, the issuance by the County of notes, bonds or other instruments of indebtedness evidencing borrowing to be paid back in part or in full by non-ad valorem tax revenues received by the County, in an amount which, individually or in combination with other issues for the same project authorized within the preceding two (2) years, exceeds $15,000,000.00 [On 2/15/07, the BOCC adopted Resolution No. 07-037 amending the County’s debt ceiling as provided by County Charter and Ordinance No. 02- 65 to $20,220,435.] (including administrative costs of the issue), shall be authorized only after approval by a majority vote of the electors at a special election called for that purpose or in conjunction with any regular election. No proceeds of instruments of indebtedness shall be issued to finance current operations of County Government, except that part of current expenses directly allocable to capital projects. Nothing in this section prohibits issuance of tax anticipation notes payable in one year or less.
5.3.2 Lease-purchase contracts
Lease-purchase instruments of indebtedness shall be limited to the acquisition of equipment or other tangible property having a value of not more than $1,000,000.00 per individual contract. Lease-purchase instruments of indebtedness shall not extend longer than the useful life of such equipment or tangible property, and shall not pledge, directly or indirectly, any ad valorem revenues of the County.
The limitations in the foregoing subsections do not apply to projects mandated by judicial decree, self-liquidating projects, utility or other enterprise funds, road projects funded by gasoline taxes, or to the refinancing of any existing instruments of indebtedness or certificates of participation to reduce the cost of debt service.
Notwithstanding the limitations of this Article, whenever a disaster or emergency has been declared by the Governor of Florida or the President of the United States, the Board of County Commissioners may authorize the issuance of notes, bonds or other instruments of indebtedness (including lease-purchase agreements and covenants to budget) to the full extent permitted by the State Constitution and general laws of Florida, for the sole purpose of repair or reconstruction of infrastructure or capital facilities of the County damaged by flood, tornado, hurricane, act of war, act of God, or other declared disaster or emergency.
5.3.4 Indexed ceilings
The maximum amounts fixed in this Article for the issuance of bond or lease-purchase undertakings not approved at referendum shall be increased or decreased from time to time in proportion to the increase or decrease based on a generally accepted consumer price index to be designated by Ordinance.
Section 5.4 Preservation of Existing Millage Limitations
5.4.1 Levy of new non-ad valorem special assessments
Brevard County shall not levy new non-ad valorem special assessments (excluding Municipal Service Benefit Units) without the approval of a majority of the electors residing within the boundaries of the district or other area of the County where the special assessments are proposed to be levied, voting thereon at a general election or special election called for purposes of such approval. (Amd. 11-3-98)
5.4.2 Truth in Taxation
(a) In any year in which the Board of County Commissioners tentatively adopts a millage rate in excess of 100 percent of the rolled-back rate computed pursuant to Florida law, the Board of County Commissioners shall be required to publish a notice in a local general circulation newspaper, with additional information to explain any increase in ad valorem tax revenue to be spent in the proposed budget over those levied in the prior fiscal year. The advertisement shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation published at least five days a week. This advertisement shall be no less than one-quarter page in size and both the headline and the actual percentage increase proposed total ad valorem tax proceeds in the advertisement shall be in a type no smaller than 18 points. The advertisement shall not be placed in that portion of the newspaper where legal notices and classified advertisements appear. Such advertisement shall take place within 15 days after the meeting adopting the tentative budget and shall state the County’s intent to finally adopt a millage rate and budget. The public hearing to finalize the budget and adopt a millage rate shall be held not less than two days or more than five days after the day that the advertisement is first published. The advertisement shall be substantially in the following form:
BREVARD COUNTY BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS DISCLOSURE OF TAX INCREASE PURSUANT TO THE BREVARD COUNTY CHARTER
1. The Brevard County Board of County Commissioners has tentatively adopted a proposed aggregate millage rate of __________ which is an increase over the aggregate roll-back rate of _________. This increase is a ________ percent change over
the aggregate roll-back rate, yielding $ _________ in additional revenue over the prior year’s proceeds as reflected on the Certificate of Taxable Value.
2. The proposed aggregate millage rate will also yield an additional $_______ in revenue as a result of the taxable value of new construction which is not included in the rolled-back calculation, pursuant to Section 200.065(1), Florida Statutes.
The sum total of additional ad valorem revenue proposed, as reflected in Sections 1 and 2 above, is $ _______. This represents an actual increase in proposed revenue of the following percentage:
ACTUAL PERCENTAGE INCREASE IN PROPOSED TOTAL AD VALOREM TAX PROCEEDS OVER THE PRIOR YEAR _________%.
(b) In the event a new taxing district is created, the percentage increase in the total tax proceeds over the prior year will increase and therefore the notice shall contain a notation to explain that contribution to the total increase expressed as a percentage.
(c) If new unfunded state mandates caused an increase in the total tax levy over the prior year, the notice shall contain a notation to indicate that cost impact and its contribution to the total increase expressed as a percentage. (Amd. 11-7-2004)
Section 5.5 Creation or Enlargement of Municipal Service Taxing Units
Prior to either establishing a new Municipal Service Taxing Unit or enlarging the boundaries of an existing Municipal Service Taxing Unit, the County Commission may hold a non-binding referendum within the area where the MSTU is to be established. The County Commission shall comply with all relevant provisions of general law relating to the calling, notice and timing of such a referendum. (Amd. 11-7-00)
Section 5.6 Public Participation and Inclusion
All citizens and taxpayers are entitled to have access to their elected officials, to present their grievances to their County Government, and to participate in County Government in an effort to guide the future of the community. When making appointments of individual citizens who desire to participate in their government to any decision making, regulatory or advisory board or committee, including the Charter Review Commission, the Board of County Commissioners shall make such appointments based on competence, expertise or merit of the prospective appointee. When appointments to all of the County's boards and committees are taken as a whole, the appointments should include citizens from all segments of society in Brevard County, reflecting the differing viewpoints, gender, life experiences, professions, races, and ethnic background of Brevard County society and in an effort to provide balance with regard to race, gender or ethnic background. (Amd.11-7-00)