St. Petersburg voters are being asked to approve seven amendments to the City Charter, essentially the “Constitution” for the City of St. Petersburg. Several of these amendments make significant changes in the way St. Petersburg conducts elections, addresses persistent inequality in the city, and focuses on creating equity and opportunity for all. Amendment 1 would change the way City Council representatives are elected. Candidates would run in a primary election in their own district, and the top two vote-getters would run in the general election held in the Council District only; there would be no city-wide run off for Council seats. Candidates receiving more than 50% of the vote in the primary would win the Council seat and no run off election would be held. Amendment 3 would create an equity plan for the city and launch the position of “Chief Equity Officer” charged with making sure that plan was implemented in all aspects of City governance. Amendment 4 would assure that funds were made available to support equity initiatives, and that the results of these initiatives were assessed on a regular basis.
Voters are also being asked to extend a tax exemption for businesses that create new jobs. This measure gives the St Petersburg City Council the power, for the next 10 years, to continue granting property tax exemptions to certain qualifying businesses that create new capital investment and new, full-time jobs in the city. This tax exemption, first approved by voters in 2011, was designed for businesses that create a minimum of 10 jobs that earn more than the average wage in Pinellas County.
For a synopsis of the Amendments and an analysis of their effects, visit the League of Women Voters’ Charter Amendments and Referendum Question Analysis. For a full report on the Charter Review Commission, click here.