COURTESY : Daily Commercial
changes to ballot question
By Bill Koch
Published August 24, 2006
- After weeks of finagling over words and legalities, the Village Center
Community Development District was finally able to settle on suitable wording
for a straw ballot late Tuesday.
The nonbinding referendum, which is expected to go on the Nov. 7 ballot, would
ask voters in The Villages if they wanted to change the way supervisors are
elected to the commercial-based Village Center board, one of the two main
governing bodies in the community.
The Lake County Commission objected to wording in the second of two ballot
options, saying the 80-word sentence needed to be chopped by at least five
words. Lake's board also insisted on a "yes" or "no" ballot
The Marion County Commission earlier insisted on a longer draft of the second
question to better reflect provisions of Florida Statute 163.
Sumter County commissioners late Tuesday asked Gary Moyer, a Village Center
supervisor and vice president of development for The Villages, if he could
include the Village Center acronym - VCCDD - in the title to the ballot
questions, which proponents of the change said would make it more recognizable.
"This starts the process that gets this down the road," Moyer said,
indicating he might not be able to make the title change.
Moyer said he feared missing the Sept. 5 deadline if the Sumter Commission
demanded wording changes. Marion County Attorney Gordon Johnston told Villages
officials on Wednesday he had no objections to Lake's wording change, said
Villages Center District Manager Janet Tutt.
The revision reads: "Vote 'yes' if you like the way Amenity Programs,
Facilities and Services are currently being provided by the Village Center
District and would prefer they continue to be operated as they are now. Vote
'no' if you would prefer to change the way Amenity Programs, Facilities and
Services are being provided north of County Road 466 by creating a separate
Administrative entity by interlocal agreement among the numbered districts, Lake
County and Village Center District."
Sumter County Attorney Randall Thornton summarized the ballot question: "Do
they like it the way it is or do they want to make a change?"
Joe Gorman, president of The Villages' Property Owners' Association, said he
thinks most Villagers would vote to change the way Village Center supervisors
are chosen. Under state Statute 190, they are chosen by the majority landowner
in the district, which in the two commercial-based districts is the developer.
Supervisors are contractors, employees or associates of the developer and most
don't live in The Villages.
But Gorman said he was worried about confusion over the "yes" and
"no" vote. A majority of "no" votes would pass the
"You have to have something that's clear," he said. "I'm just
amazed at the lack of understanding of this issue. The knee-jerk reaction is to
hell with it."
Commissioner Dick Hoffman scoffed at objections to the ballot wording, saying
Villagers were capable of understanding complicated questions.
"I have no problem understanding this," he said. "This is as
plain as day."
The Marion County Commission is expected to decide on the wording Sept. 5. The
Village Center board must ratify the new wording at its regular monthly meeting