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Pensacola city councilman wants to change city charter

PENSACOLA   -- Pensacola's City Charter is not even five years old, but one city councilman wants it changed.

Charles Bare wants to shift power from the mayor's office to the council
Voters approved the new city charter and "Strong Mayor" form of government in 2009.
Before then, the mayor's job was largely ceremonial.  He was essentially a voting member of the city council.
Now, the mayor is like the CEO of the city.
He doesn't vote in city council meetings, and seldom attends.
He supervises all departments and has the power to appoint officers and employees.

Day to day operations are taken care of by a city manager that he appoints.
Councilman Bare says the system is not working.

Councilman Charles Bare believes there are key components left out in the current city charter.

While he doesn't want to change the charter completely, he does want to add three amendments.

He believes these proposed changes would overall benefit the city.
Councilman Bare wants to restore some legislative power to the city council.

He feels council members are often left in the dark on the mayor's decisions.

He thinks when people voted for this charter in 2009, they didn't know what they were really signing up for.
"I think the issue with the charter is we were promised balance of power and we were promised no backroom deals"

Here are the proposed amendments:
Give the city council financial control, meaning the council could fix salaries of elected officials and make changes to the city budget.

It would also give more power to the city council to decide the organization of city government, not the mayor.

And it would make the mayor a voting member of the city council again.  He would have to follow Sunshine Law and be subject to recall.

"Having the mayor in council meetings without these one on one meetings"

The mayor's office released a statement regarding Councilman Bare's proposal, saying in part, that the strong mayor form of government is working and going forward with these changes would be taking a step back and returning to days of gridlock.

Voters we spoke with had mixed feelings about the proposed changes.
Tom Barth
"My feeling overall is, gridlock sets in whether the mayor is strong in terms of the charter."

Daniel Lawrence
"Living here for two years, they've been doing strong stuff for the city especially downtown."

Jenise Fernandez
The council could vote on this as early as next week. But it's ultimately left in the hands of the voters. Councilman Bare is hoping to have this on the ballot in August.