CRESTVIEW — At Monday night’s City Council meeting, Okaloosa County Supervisor of Elections Paul Lux explained to the council the options they have regarding a referendum for their recently amended city charter.
In May 2017, the city council appointed seven members to the Charter Review Committee with the duty of researching and deciding whether the city should keep the same form of government. The committee had 90 days to review the charter, and they presented their findings to the council in September.
"You’re at the crossroads," Lux said. "Your charter review committee has done its work… so I asked my staff to come up with a good-faith estimate, so you basically have the same three options that you always have."
Residents of Crestview who are eligible to vote can vote on the new charter. According to Lux, the city has three options when it comes to administering the referendum: a vote-by-mail election, a stand-alone election or add on to an already scheduled county-wide election.
With a mail-out ballot, every eligible voter in the city is mailed a ballot. This would cost the city approximately $12,439.
A stand-alone election would be similar to the semi-annual city council election. Lux would need to reserve the polling places and staff them with the number of poll workers specified by the law. This option would cost approximately $15,646.
The cost of legal advertising to put in conjunction with another election would be the only cost for an add-on election.
"[An add-on] brings up a lot more questions," Lux said. "If you’re only going to have one referendum about the city charter, then obviously the cost for that legal advertisement is smaller. If you decide to have multiple questions… the cost is going to go up."
Lux told the council to not consider the November 2018 election, as there will be no room for the charter referendum on the ballot.
"There are already two legislative initiatives slated to go on the ballot, there are two citizens' initiatives that are very well poised to make ballot position, and… the constitutional revision commission is meeting, and the last time they met they gave us 11 constitutional amendments to go on the ballot," Lux said. "I’m rapidly running out of room on the ballot already."
According to Lux, the earliest opportunity would be to have the referendum in conjuction with the August 2018 primary election.
The referendum is limited to 75 words in body and 15 in title. According to Lux, the last time Crestview put a referendum on the ballot, they made it a "catch-all" and many citizens voted no due to not agreeing with or not being educated on certain parts of the referendum.
"I would contend that doing it as a big giant catch-all amendment is probably a bad idea, unless [you] budget and plan for a very robust outreach to the voters," Lux said.
There are currently approximately 7,200 households in Crestivew with eligible voters. A not-for-profit bulk mailing to those households with an informational booklet would cost the city approximately $1,000, Lux said.
Councilman Joe Blocker made a motion to have the referendum added to the August 2018 primary election ballot and Councilman Shannon Hayes seconded the motion.
The motion passed with all council members in favor.