After some debate, North Bay Village commissioners approved the creation of a a special needs advisory board at the monthly Commission meeting Tuesday evening.
The advisory board, which was proposed by Vice Mayor Jorge Gonzalez, will disseminate health-related information to interested residents. Residents can call the board to request resources or to be put in touch with the appropriate government or private agency that provides the desired service.
Gonzalez says the board will address functional impairment and disability services as well as programs for children and seniors. This may include transportation services or mental health resources.
But Mayor Connie Leon-Kreps had some reservations about the lack of conditions for confidentiality.
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“I don’t see here any limitations,” she said. “I don’t see that if the board member breaks confidentiality that they are liable.”
Resident Al Coletta agreed that the city should not be liable if a board member breaks confidentiality, but that there is a need for this service in the community.
“I would do something to help the situation, but keep the city as far away from it as possible,” Coletta said regarding the city’s liability.
Gonzalez said residents would not be required to identify themselves if they are concerned about confidentiality. He also pointed to the other municipalities that have implemented similar boards and have been successful.
“This is a tested idea,” Gonzalez said. “It happens in other cities and municipalities and it is working fine.”
Commissioner Richard Chervony requested that the ordinance be amended to include a sunset provision that would allow the board to run on a trial basis for a year.
Leon-Kreps ultimately decided that she would support the ordinance with the sunset provision and if language was added to protect the city from liability.
The ordinance was approved with these two provisions, with only Commissioner Eddie Lim voting against it. Commissioner Wendy Duvall was absent from the meeting.
“We have so many boards lacking members and here we have another board,” Leon-Kreps said after the vote.