Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
June 24, 2019 – 11:00 a.m.
At their June 18, 2019 Regular Meeting the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) unanimously approved on Second and Final Reading Ordinance 2019-11, amending the Land Development Code specific to advisory board attendance requirements. The change eliminated subjectivity in excusing absences from regular board meetings.
Henceforth, board members will be automatically removed from their position without action from the FBCC following a third absence from regular meetings in any calendar year. This applies to all boards except the Planning Advisory Board.
Commissioners agreed that three absences — regardless of the reason — has the potential to seriously jeopardize the work of the city. Commissioners receive complaints from citizens when their cases or projects are delayed because advisory boards cannot produce quorums at regular, advertised meetings. In some instances, this results in financial losses to the affected citizens and businesses.
Originally commissioners had debated whether absences for medical reasons should be considered differently, but Commissioner Chip Ross, who is a medical doctor, offered the amendment to apply the rule to three vacancies for any reason, whether consecutive or not. He suggested that three vacancies constituted a quarter of the annual meetings. “Three strikes and you’re out,” he said.
Vice Mayor Len Kreger agreed with Ross, citing the need to move forward with city business. “If someone has volunteered to serve on a [board] that meets 12 times a year and they are absent a quarter of the time, they really should not be on that [board].”