The new Vero Beach City Council held its first meeting yesterday and maneuvered through a few potholes, but thankfully, displayed none of the rancor that reigned over the past year. First order of business was for Council to elect a new mayor and vice mayor. The good news is that Tony Young was named mayor, the same position his grandfather, A.W. Young, held exactly 100 years ago. It was a fitting way to start Vero’s second 100 years. Laura Moss was named vice mayor and after some musical chairs they assumed their new seats at the dais. But then it turned out the election had to be overturned because it should have been handled in the canvassing board meeting the day before.
Some people were probably holding their breath, thinking this was déjà vu all over again (the November 2018 City Council election was re-run in February of this year). But, everything was resolved with Young and Moss given the titles of “acting” mayor and vice mayor until tomorrow (Thursday) morning when the canvassing board will again meet and hold a vote of legitimacy to re-install them.
From there the meeting highlights included a presentation about the upcoming Three Corners charrette and discussion of Council priorities, namely the Indian River Lagoon and tourist tax. Those three subjects of been alternately controversial or neglected. The aptly named Three Corners – because those three properties sit on three corners of 17th Street and Indian River Boulevard – is prime real estate for either commercial or recreational development, possibly both. The public reacted strongly to efforts this past year that would have allowed developers to decide what should happen. Instead, a charrette will be held to gather citizen input before any decisions are made.
Action on the Lagoon, a major concern of citizens, has been postponed, at times over political philosophy or indecision. This City Council seems intent on making decisions and more importantly, doing something about our community’s greatest natural asset.
The tourist tax issue may not resonate with the public but it should. The County has sole control over where tourist tax revenues are spent, yet half those revenues are generated within the Vero Beach city limits.
A few decisions were made at the meeting including the appointment of a steering committee for the charrette than will include Dr. Richard Baker, Mike Johnson, Alma Lee Loy, Linda Moore, Mark Tripson and Vicky Gould, with John Cotugno as an alternate.
Other decisions included changing the City Council meeting time to 8:30 a.m., rather than alternating between at 3:00 p.m. or 5:00 p.m. start. Public input will occur with each agenda item and be limited to three minutes.
Overall, the meeting was a welcome change from the past year and hopefully a sign that this group of elected officials will work exclusively for the people who elected them.