Editor’s Note: Richard Winger served three terms as City Councilman and Mayor.
The short answer is no – the Marina is protected by our City Charter, which is basically the City’s “Constitution” and cannot be changed by a mere three votes on City Council. It must be approved by a vote of the electorate.
But it may happen anyway at next Tuesday’s City Council meeting at 3:00 p.m. If so, it will be a violation of our City Charter for the following reason:
The City Charter is granted by the State of Florida to authorize what it can and cannot do and is crucial to protecting you, Vero Beach Citizens, from overreach by City Councils or City Management. One area the Charter is clear about – protected lands. These are defined City properties and parks that cannot be sold off without a referendum. Neither can they be leased to a profit making business without voter approval. In 2011, City Council had to order a referendum to approve a lease of the power plant to FPL. Voters approved the lease on November 8, 2011. (This is one of the two referendums mistakenly referred to as a referendum to sell Vero Electric).
The same issue comes before City Council this coming Tuesday, November 20. As in 2011, any lease of Charter-protected property to a private company/person must be approved by you the citizens of Vero Beach.
Council’s rationale for leasing the Marina is that they cannot manage the facility successfully, given its less than adequate physical state. However, some proceeds from the sale of Vero Electric to FPL could – and should – be invested in the facility so it can continue to make a profit in years to come. Yes, it does make a profit. But that profit could be greatly increased and contribute more cash flow to the City, making up for the annual revenue lost by selling Vero Electric.
The Charter is clear. As citizens, we need to be sure we are paying attention and that we are focused on protecting our rights against infringement by any one. We must not forfeit our rights, and we must be sure what is done is good for us.