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All changes to charter pass voters' muster


© St. Petersburg Times, published November 8, 2000

Voters approved three changes to Pinellas County's charter Tuesday.

The first referendum increased the number of commissioners' votes it would take to hire or fire the county administrator, a change made necessary by the commission's recent expansion from five to seven members.

Five of the seven commissioners now must agree to appoint a county administrator. Five of the seven also must vote in favor of firing the administrator, or four of the seven could agree during separate meetings.

The second referendum changed the formula needed to get a citizens' initiative on the ballot. Now, no more than 40 percent of the signatures on an initiative petition can come from any one at-large district. And no more than 30 percent of them can come from any one single-member district.

The final amendment gives commissioners the power to referee annexation squabbles among cities. The county has a series of imaginary lines around Pinellas' 24 cities. Under the change, a city can pursue voluntary annexations on its side of the line but cannot cross over the line into someone else's annexation area without risking a challenge from the county. Residents living in unincorporated areas would not be annexed into a nearby city without their consent.

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