Commissioners reviewed a presentation at the January 7, 2003 City
Commission meeting explaining the process and errors involved in a recent
printing of the City Code. The PowerPoint presentation reviewed the
receipt of the newly enacted code and the process that followed.
In general, after the City Commission passes an
ordinance, the City Attorney's office sends a electronic and hard copy of
the final version to the City Clerk's Office. The City Clerk's office
dates and numbers the passed ordinance and then forwards it by e-mail to
the Municipal Code Corporation (MCC). A copy of the e-mailed ordinance is
archived electronically and the hard copy is filed. An editor at MCC then
reviews the ordinance and it is inserted into the proper section of the
It is important to note that when an amendment is adding
language to an existing ordinance, the new language is underlined. When an
amendment seeks to remove language from an existing ordinance, the
language is struck-through.
Ordinance number 02-01
90-394 and 90-395) was passed on January 2, 2002 and
transmitted by the City Attorney's office to the City Clerk's office the
following day. The Clerk's office attached the number of the ordinance,
the date it was passed and e-mailed the document to MCC on April 5.
Ordinance number 02-06 was passed on February 20, 2002 and transmitted by
the City Attorney's office to the City Clerk's that same day. The Clerk's
office attached the number of the ordinance, the date it was passed and
e-mailed the document to MCC on April 5. The documents as transmitted are
available on the City's website. Electronic copies of the ordinances are
archived and hard copies are stored in the City vault.
Due to a re-codification effort, the e-mailing of both
ordinances was done on April 5. "Generally, a newly passed ordinance
is sent the day after it is enacted by the Commission," noted City
Clerk, Cheri Smith.
A 30-year veteran editor at MCC reviewed the documents
and noticed some strange strike-throughs on the document. She called the
City Clerk's office and asked if the document that was sent was correct
but did not ask specifically about the strike-throughs. The unusual
formatting included language that was both underlined and struck-through,
as well as lines running through the names of both the Mayor and the City
Clerk which appear at the bottom of each passed ordinance.
The editor at MCC interpreted this to mean that the
language should be deleted from the ordinance, causing the unintentional
omission of said language from the ordinance as passed. This did not, in
any way, change the intent of the Commission or the ability to legally
enforce the laws as passed.
As noted by the City Attorney in a memo dated December
5, 2002 to the Planning Board and City Commissioners, "Any
mispublication of [land development regulations] triggers a well-settled
rule of law: A codification error does not alter the underlying
legislative intent of the city commission. In other words, the publication
error to the variance ordinance does not undermine that ordinance's
It was agreed by the City Commissioners and MCC alike,
that there was no intentional omissions or efforts by any City officials
to cause a change in the language passed by the Commission.
It is not exactly known how the error occurred.
"There was some kind of miscommunication along the transmission
route," noted Lawton Langford of MCC. "Also, the editor did not
notice a footnote in regards to ordinance 02-06. Both have been corrected
in the Supplement."
In order to ensure this type of error does not occur
again, the City Clerk's office will send the passed ordinance by e-mail in
both an MS Word form as well as an Adobe Acrobat .pdf file, which is
exactly like sending a hard copy of the document. "This will continue
to ensure quick submission of the ordinances while minimizing the
possibility for errors," said Smith.
"From time-to-time, error does occur. The City
Clerk's office along with the City Attorney's office makes every effort to
ensure the accuracy of the passed and codified ordinances, which is a
complicated process" said City Manager Julio Avael. "To continue
with our commitment to Trust in Government, the City Commission has asked
that we review the ordinances passed since January 1, 1999, to the present
to be absolutely certain all information contained in the code reflects
what was passed by the City Commission. We are happy to facilitate this
task by hiring an independent party to do the comparison."