Sunday, May 15, 2016

New Meeting Schedule Begins Tuesday, May 17

There is a Belle Isle City Council meeting on the coming Tuesday, May 17. This specially-called meeting begins at 6:30 p.m., consistent with the new schedule to be voted upon by council. If approved, the new city council meeting schedule will be the first and third Tuesday of every month at 6:30 p.m.

The council will also be addressing voluntary annexation of the new Mattamy Homes development on Daetwyler Road. This item is only scheduled for a first reading, so no final action can be taken on the annexation until a second reading takes place at a future meeting.

You can read more about these and other issues up for discussion in the meeting agenda, located here:

City Council Meeting Agenda - May 17, 2016

Thursday, May 5, 2016

City Council Meeting Highlights - May 3, 2016

Here is a brief recap of the May 3, 2016 Belle Isle City Council meeting. Please note that this is not intended as a comprehensive review of everything that happened at the meeting, but just an overview of some of issues discussed and actions taken by the council. If you'd like more detail about what happened at the meeting, please look to the official city minutes and audio recordings (once available).

New Meeting Schedule

The council took an first vote approving a new meeting schedule that will allow better access for residents. Once this schedule is formalized by a second council vote, regular meetings will be held at 6:30 p.m. on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Additional workshop meetings will be held on an as-needed basis. Consistent with this new schedule, there is a specially-called meeting coming up on Tuesday, May 17 at 6:30 p.m.

Advertisement of City Manager Position

In the few months since accepting the position, interim city manager Richard Anderson has been doing an excellent job helping our city run more smoothly. He is ready to move forward with the search for a permanent Belle Isle city manager. To this end, the council approved a new job description and discussed salary guidelines for all current and future city employees. Over the coming weeks, we will be advertising the open city manager position and accepting applications for council review.

Cornerstone Service Learning Club

The council recognized the Cornerstone service learning club for its great work in promoting student volunteerism and community involvement. Thanks for helping to make our community a better place!

Vice Mayor Election

The Belle Isle vice mayor position has been vacant since former vice mayor, Lydia Pisano, took office as our new mayor. A vice mayor is selected each year by consensus of the city council. At the May 3 meeting, the council elected Commissioner Harvey Readey as our new vice mayor. Commissioner Readey has the most council experience of any present commissioner, having served on the Belle Isle City Council since 2006.

Future Construction

Construction on Gene Polk Park / Delia Beach will begin soon. Residents expressed satisfaction with the city's plans to improve the park aesthetics and stormwater treatment functions. The council also considered a number of potential future projects, including possible completion of the roundabout fountain on Nela that began so many years ago, but no specific proposals were presented or voted upon. The council also discussed reinstatement of a Belle Isle neighborhood grant program to fund small neighborhood improvements throughout the city.

Code Enforcement

Code enforcement officer Robyn Winters gave a thorough presentation on the enforcement process, including some suggestions about how this process can be improved in the future. April Fisher also gave a brief presentation regarding the city's plans for revising and updating our city code to make it more effective and enforceable in the future.

And More...

Of course, there was quite a bit more discussed than what is recounted above. For complete meeting records, please refer to the city minutes and audio recordings (once available).

For those of you who haven't attended a city council meeting lately, I highly recommend taking advantage of the new 6:30 p.m. meeting schedule and attending a meeting. Learn more about your city and take part in the process!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

City Council Meeting Highlights - April 12, 2016

Wallace Lot Acquisition

After a lengthy presentation by interim City Manager Richard Anderson, the Belle Isle City Council voted unanimously to move forward with the purchase of the large grass lot at the corner of Wallace and Matchett. The lot is to be utilized as an open city green space, the details of which will be resolved at future meetings. The purchase price is not to be paid from the city's general fund, so this purchase will not affect the city's cash reserve or general fund balances stated in the recent 2015 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR).

Acquiring this lot for the city is important for a number of reasons. It is a beautiful open field that the seller has previously allowed to be used as a practice field as well as for the city's recent Easter Egg Hunt event. The property is in close proximity to Lake Conway, but without actually incurring the enormous costs and potential liabilities that come with being on the lake itself. It is also one of the most historic locations in Belle Isle, being part of the old Will Wallace Harney homestead - site of the original 1800s "Pine Castle."

Purchasing the Wallace lot ensures that it will remain a city greenspace. This will, in turn, protect our lakes by eliminating the construction of multiple new septic tanks as would be needed for housing development. The Wallace lot is also one of the few remaining open spaces that we can acquire to fulfill our city goal of maintaining open spaces, as described in the 2010 Belle Isle Comprehensive Plan.

City Council Meeting Schedule & Procedures

In addition to discussing the property purchase, the council also informally agreed to move forward with establishing a new city council meeting schedule. Under the newly-proposed schedule, city council meetings would be held on the first and third Tuesdays of each month at 6:30 p.m. This schedule precludes the need for separate workshop meetings, which do not allow for citizen input or council action. The future meeting schedule will be discussed further and formalized by the council in the coming weeks.

The council also briefly discussed the possibility of adopting simplified rules of order for its meetings. This issue will be more fully addressed at a future meeting along with the possible purchase of inexpensive reusable signs to be posted around town in advance of each meeting.

In Closing

Please keep in mind that this is not meant to be a complete recap of everything that happened at the April 12, 2016 Belle Isle City Council meeting, simply an overview of the most important decisions and discussions.

Want to contact your mayor or city council members? Please use our official email addresses and phone numbers, provided in representative map linked below. This link is always accessible from the right column of the Belle Isle Sun homepage.

Representative Map & Contact Information

Please note that under Florida's Sunshine Law, all communications with city email and phone accounts are archived as public records subject to request.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Swearing-In Ceremony & Reception on Tuesday

The Belle Isle City Council meeting scheduled for this Tuesday, April 5 at 6:00 p.m. will be held in the Cornerstone Charter Academy auditorium (click for map). It will feature a presentation to honor our outgoing city officials: Commissioners Keith Van Dyke, Karl Shuck, and Larry Ady as well as Mayor William Brooks.

The meeting will conclude with the swearing-in of our new city officials, Commissioners Katy McGinnis, Jeremy Weinsier, and Bobby Lance as well as Mayor Lydia Pisano. Following the meeting, the city will hold a reception in the Cornerstone atrium for all residents and attendees.

You can find a full meeting agenda at official City of Belle Isle website. Hope to see you there!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Florida Sunshine Law and the Belle Isle Sun

The Belle Isle City Council election results were certified today by the Orange County Canvassing Board, meaning that I am now officially your commissioner-elect for Belle Isle District 3. As a commissioner-elect, I fall under the purview of the Florida Sunshine Law. Many readers have wondered what this means and how it will affect future publication of the Belle Isle Sun.

Although there are many nuances to the Florida Sunshine Law, the basics are very simple. Communications with any city official regarding issues that could potentially come to a vote before the city council are governed by the Sunshine Law and may be requested by the public. Communications with city accounts and devices are generally assumed to be public records regardless of content, so please be mindful of this when communicating with your elected officials.

To ensure full compliance with the Sunshine Law, I will only be using my city-issued phone and email accounts to discuss city business. Therefore, I am no longer monitoring the email account. To contact me regarding city business in the future, please use my official Belle Isle email address or phone number, soon to be issued and listed on the City of Belle Isle website. Please note that based on Florida's Sunshine Law requirements, all communications with city email and phone accounts will be archived as public records subject to request.

With regard to future publication of the Belle Isle Sun, Florida law clearly states that there is no problem. In Advisory Legal Opinion 2008-07, the Florida Attorney General spells out the guidelines for a city council member operating and publishing on a private website. As it relates to publication of the Belle Isle Sun, the opinion states that a city council member may operate and publish on a private website regarding city issues, so long as other city council members do not respond to the posts.

Responses from other city council members are not an issue here because the Belle Isle Sun does not accept reader comments. This policy not only avoids the need to moderate user content for profanity, but also eliminates any possibility of our commissioners using the Sun to communicate regarding city business.

I look forward to providing residents with important information about our city through the Belle Isle Sun whenever necessary. However, my hope is that as we continue working to improve city communications, residents will be able to find more and more of the information they seek through official city sources.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

2016 City Council Election Results [FINAL]

Here they are, the unofficial results of your 2016 Belle Isle City Council election! Remember, these results are unofficial until final certification by the canvassing board.

City Council, District 2:
Anthony Carugno - 1037
Katy McGinnis - 1086

City Council, District 3:
Karl Shuck - 1056
Jeremy Weinsier - 1065

City Council, District 4:
Larry Ady - 510
Bobby Lance - 1584

We had great voter turnout in Belle Isle! Thanks to everyone who voted this year!

UPDATE 3/15/16:

The Supervisor of Elections has updated its election results based on additional absentee ballots processed. The updated totals are reflected above.

At this time, absentee ballots have been fully processed by the canvassing board. However, these results are still unofficial pending final review on Thursday.

UPDATE 3/18/16:

After processing provisional ballots, the District 3 race was close enough to trigger the Florida automatic recount procedure. Therefore, a recount was performed this afternoon by the Orange County Canvassing Board at the Supervisor of Elections office. You can find the results of that recount posted below.

The updated totals above are now final, although they will not be certified until Friday, March 25 based on Florida law for presidential primaries. Thanks to everyone who participated in the City Council election process this year!

UPDATE 3/25/16:

The above election results were certified on March 25, 2016 by the Orange County Canvassing Board. Congratulations to the winners!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Vote Tomorrow - 7am to 7pm

Election day is tomorrow! Voting begins Tuesday, March 15 at 7:00 a.m. and polls will remain open until 7:00 p.m.

Voting Locations

You must vote at your assigned polling location. Not sure which is your polling location? Check your sample ballot or use the link below:

Orange County Supervisor of Elections - Find Your Polling Location

Once you have found your proper polling location, you can click on the links below for a map:

Belle Isle City Hall, 1600 Nela Avenue
Pine Castle Masonic Lodge, 1216 Hoffner Avenue

Election Results

Get your election results first from the Sun! If you haven't already, sign up for Belle Isle Sun email alerts, which will notify you each time a new article has been posted. Emails usually go out no more than once a week, and often much less.

You can find the "Subscribe" link at the top right of the page under the Belle Isle Sun banner when viewed on your PC. This link may not appear on your phone or tablet. You can also follow the Sun on Twitter (@belleislesun) for new article notifications.