ISLAMORADA -- Council members two weeks ago gave verbal support to a proposal by Councilman Ken Philipson to move the mayoral selection to early October in order to have it coincide with the start of Islamorada's fiscal year.
But when the Village Council convenes Wednesday, Oct. 23, its first official vote on the matter could prove to be more than a formality.
"I just don't think it's necessary," Councilman Mike Forster said in an interview Monday.
Unlike in some cities, where the mayorship is an elected post empowered with executive authority, the Islamorada mayorship is largely honorary. Council members select the mayor by majority vote on an annual basis to chair meetings and sign official documents. The mayor doesn't make executive decisions and has just one vote, like other council members.
Under existing village law, the council must select a mayor at its first meeting after November elections are certified, or on off years, at its first meeting in December.
In a surprise move on Oct. 10, Philipson relinquished the gavel early and nominated then-Vice Mayor Ted Blackburn to be his replacement. The ordinance the council is scheduled to take a first vote on this week would move future mayoral votes to the first meeting of October as well. If the council doesn't pass the ordinance, it will have to reappoint Blackburn mayor, or select someone else for the post, at its Dec. 12 meeting.
Blackburn said Monday that he's leaning toward supporting the change in order to match the mayoral term with budget season. But he noted that he hasn't made up his mind entirely.
"I'm still philosophically going over it in my head," he said.
Councilwoman Deb Gillis also said she's taking a wait-and-see approach.
Two other board members, Forster and Councilman Dave Purdo, said they're against changing the mayoral selection date. The biggest problem, both men said, is that in election years the new mayor could be voted out of office just a month later. All five council members must run for re-election every two years.
"It's kind of crazy to appoint a mayor and then a month later have an election where he might get booted out," Purdo said.
Holding the mayoral selection during the midst of an election campaign could also make the process more politicized, he said.
Also on Wednesday, the council will consider a $100,000 purchase contract for a parcel just south of White Marlin Boulevard, behind the Lower Matecumbe Key Fire Station. The site would be used for the island's lone sewer vacuum station, part of the village's $99 million sewer project. It is the final vacuum station site that the village needs to acquire.
The two appraisals that sewer contractor Layne commissioned for the property came in well below the $100,000 contract price, at $85,000 and $81,000 respectively. Layne is known locally as Reynolds Water Islamorada.