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Voters will get to decide if elected officials in Wilton Manors should have term limits.

Commissioners gave their final seal of approval for a 2022 ballot referendum that would establish term limits for elected officials. This fall voters will decide if 12 years is enough for elected city officials. Commissioners would be allowed a maximum of three four-year terms and the mayor allowed to serve a maximum of six two-year terms.

The ballot proposal, debated in one form or another for years, passed unanimously on a 5-0 vote, but not without resident Michael Rajner’s last-minute plea for reconsideration.

“It’s a small city,” Rajner said. “I think you’re going to miss out on talent.”

Rajner said the election format Wilton Manors uses involving multiple candidates also poses problems for overseas ballots.

Community Affairs Advisory Board Chairman Michael Sansevero disagreed with Rajner.

“It’s a small city but there’s no shortage of candidates,” Sansevero said. “If someone’s term-limited out there are six or seven other people ready to take it. Many of the commissioners come in with very little experience … you learn on the job, but that’s what brings in fresh ideas and leads to positive changes and new approaches and I think that’s a good thing for the city.”

Other notes from the Feb. 8 meeting:

The Commission approved the creation of a Financial Advisory Board. All five members of the Budget Review Advisory Committee (BRAC) will transition to the new volunteer board.

Commissioners unanimously approved a request by Manor Bowl Inc. to vacate a portion of the right-of-way north of its property at 1517 NE 26th St. The parcel of land vacated is 12 feet in width and 155.80 feet in length for a total of 1,869.60 square feet in area. The bowling alley was built in 1959. Propane tanks are currently on the vacated right-of-way.

Lynn Lawrence was selected as the city’s Black History Month honoree. Lawrence is the owner of the Wilton Drive Dairy Queen.

“She’s been operating that successfully, as not only a woman but as a minority-owned business for 22 years,” Sansevero said. “To have such a minority-owned business operating in Wilton Manors over that long period of time especially in the early years is historical and groundbreaking and commendable.”

The Commission was united in opposition to seven bills currently proposed in the state legislature. Those bills are SB 974, SB 510, SB 148/HB 7, SB 1820/HB 747, SB 1834/HB 1557, SB 1842/HB 1305 and HB 211. Sponsored by Sen. Dennis Baxley and Rep. Joe Harding, SB 1834/HB 1557 — dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill has garnered national attention and condemnation from President Joe Biden.

The second and final public hearing for Community Development Block Grant funding was held. Todd DeJesus, Capital Projects Administer, said the city will receive $76,000 in its 48th year participating in the program. The primary objective of CDBG funds, DeJesus said, is to improve the quality of life for low to middle-income persons or neighborhoods. DeJesus said the city’s Parks & Recreation Advisory Board is “adamant” the funds be used for a new children’s playground at Hagen Park.

Economic Development Manager Kimberly Allonce gave a quarterly report. Allonce said the city’s office occupancy rate is 97.9% with a $33.43 cost per square foot. Retail occupancy rate is 98.1% with an average price of $29.54 per square foot, up nearly $8 this year. The multi-family apartment occupancy rate is 97.7% with an average asking rent of $2,095 per unit. Vice Mayor Paul Rolli asked Allonce to do a better job of contacting and cultivating relationships with developers.

“I just don’t see the result of high-level outreach or marketing and that’s what we’re looking for,” Rolli said.

The next regular commission meeting is Feb. 22.

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Wilton Manors Commission Divided Over Term Limits; Votes Against Latest Proposal