By Audrey Gilpin, Deputy City Clerk
After years of hearing citizens and previous city councils inquire about home rule, the current Salida City Council made it a priority to explore the possibility of Salida adopting a home rule charter.
On September 18, council passed, upon second reading, Ordinance 2012-12, initiating the adoption of a home rule charter and providing for the election of charter commission members. In the ordinance, councilmen called for a special election to be held January 15, 2013. The voters shall cast ballots for or against forming the charter commission and electing charter commission members.
Please plan to attend an informational meeting at 6 p.m. October 9 at the Salida High School Auditorium presented by Sam Mamet, director of the Colorado Municipal League. Mamet will speak of both the pros and cons of home rule, answer questions and explain how home rule may or may not be the preferred direction for Salida’s citizens.
The important thing to remember is city council and staff has a very limited role in the home rule process. Council calls for the home rule charter commission election and determines how many members the commission has – the election is January 15, 2013 and the commission will have 11 members. As staff, our job is to provide educational materials and hold the election.
Currently, there are 100 Colorado communities with home rule charters, and no community in the state has ever decided to go back to being a statutory city or town. Some home rule communities include Alamosa, Basalt, Breckenridge, Canon City, Carbondale, Denver, Durango, Fort Collins, Fruita, Gunnison, Lone Tree, Loveland, Manitou Springs, Pagosa Springs, Rifle, Telluride and Woodland Park. List of Home Rule Municipalities.
A home rule charter is created by and for residents of the municipality – it’s your charter. The charter proposed by the charter commission (if voters choose to elect a charter commission Jan. 15, 2013), will be approved or disapproved by citizens during a special election in the summer of 2013 – not by the city council. If a home rule charter is approved, it will serve as the council’s governing document. Example charters: Centennial’s Charter, Silt’s Charter, Hayden’s Charter, Cedaredge’s Charter.
A home rule charter could expand or contract the number and types of elected offices, have the mayor be elected at large or from council; provide flexibility as to the city council being elected at-large, by wards (what we currently do), or by a combination of at-large and by districts; can set the number of council members; can modify or eliminate term limits; provide flexibility or clarification in terms of quorum and voting requirements for council; set forth additional or more specific ethics and conflict of interest provisions. Further, a home rule charter could allow city collection and enforcement of sales taxes, which could mean faster collections and local audits.
Home rule in no way overrides the provisions of Amendment I (TABOR), which requires new taxes, as well as taxes resulting in an increase in revenue above defined limits, are subject to a vote of the people.
The City website, http://cityofsalida.com/projects/home-rule/, has examples of home rule charters from other municipalities, election information and other informative materials on home rule. Sam Mamet’s presentation on Oct. 9 will be invaluable in learning more about home rule. Please attend.
Nomination petitions will be available October 8 at City Hall. January 15, 2013 Timeline.
Please call 530-2630 for more information.