Citizens for a Better Sarasota, a local registered political committee, has confirmed for the Sarasota Observer that the organization is working behind the scenes to get a charter amendment placed on the November ballot that would give the city manager more power and the city auditor and clerk less power at City Hall.
“We are just in the preliminary stages of trying to get our act together and get some support for changing the organization of the city,” said Citizens for a Better Sarasota board member Fred Derr. “We would like to see the city better organized.”
Derr and others reached who are involved with formulating the charter amendment said they are unhappy that Auditor and Clerk Pamela Nadalini oversees the Information Technology Department and other areas they feel are better suited under the auspices of the city manager.
Former mayor and Argus Foundation Executive Director Kerry Kirschner said the Argus Foundation “is very supportive of the charter amendment.”
Since the Argus Foundation’s failed attempt to bring a strong mayor to the city, Kirschner said this is the next logical solution.
“We need to memorialize the job responsibilities for the city manager,” Kirschner said. “We need a strong city manager or the new city manager will be set up to fail as others have.”
Kirschner said the Argus Foundation believes the IT Department, pension administration, public information, and personnel and risk management operations all need to fall under the city manager’s office and not the auditor and clerk’s office.
“How do we hire a guy to straighten out decisions if he’s not in charge of some of the things he needs to straighten out?” Kirschner said.
Citizens for a Better Sarasota must collect more than 3,000 signatures to present the charter amendment to the Sarasota City Commission in July for ballot language regarding the amendment the group is seeking for the November ballot.
“I’m very suspicious of the motive behind the charter amendment, but if they follow the proper procedure, they have every right to put it on the ballot,” said Commissioner Paul Caragiulo.
For more information, pick up a copy of Thursday’s June 7 Sarasota Observer.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].