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Longboat Key Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020 1 week ago

Commission plans November retreat

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In-person event will signal a move toward face-to-face meetings in the weeks ahead.
by: Mark Bergin Staff Writer

The Longboat Key Town Commission is planning an in-person retreat next month.

The retreat is open to the public and is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Nov. 4 at the Longboat Harbour Condominium Clubhouse, 4454 Gulf of Mexico Drive.

“Primarily, I think that puts us into the phase of having face-to-face meetings after Nov. 1,” Town Manager Tom Harmer said. “I think the retreat will be most effective in a face-to-face format.”

Harmer said the town would make preparations to make sure the retreat abides by social-distancing guidelines. Initially, commissioners were planning to meet for the retreat on Oct. 23.

“We’re still in this virtual mode in October,” Harmer said. “The governor has made it very clear that he’s not going to extend [virtual meetings] past Oct. 31.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ communications director Fredrick Piccolo Jr. said Florida municipalities should prepare to meet in person starting in November. It would require the town of Longboat Key to have at least four commissioners physically present for meetings for a legal quorum, though three others could attend virtually.

Harmer, the commissioners, Town Attorney Maggie Mooney and Town Clerk Trish Shinkle will attend the Nov. 4 retreat on behalf of the town.

“It is an opportunity for the Commissioners to meet with their two employees outside of a typical formal meeting to discuss coordination and strategic planning efforts,” Harmer wrote in an email.

The town last conducted a retreat in the spring of 2019. At that meeting, which followed the annual Goals and Objectives meeting, commissioners considered initiatives and set priorities for for the coming year. The 2020 Goals and Objectives meeting was cancelled, but citizens and groups were encouraged to submit ideas or recommendations. 

Harmer said the plan is to rejoin the annual retreat schedule in April 2021. 

November’s strategic work session will not be taped or live streamed, Harmer said. Shinkle will take minutes of the meeting.

Harmer said the town has set aside five goals for its strategic plan: community character, fiscal sustainability, environmental/resiliency, infrastructure and services. There are nearly 50 initiatives categorized under the five goals.

Commissioners cannot make any official votes or decisions during the Nov. 4. meeting.

“Any formal action will need to take place at a regular Commission meeting,” Harmer wrote.

Mark Bergin is the Longboat Key Town Hall reporter for the Observer. He has previously worked as a senior digital producer at WTSP, the CBS affiliate in St. Petersburg. Mark is a graduate of the University of Missouri and grew up in the Chicagoland area.

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