Home Rule

What is Home Rule?

In simple terms, it allows a municipality greater control of “matters of local concern”:

If a matter is of local or municipal concern, a home rule city may regulate or otherwise control or act with reference to it. In the absence of municipal action the matter is to be governed by applicable state law. If the matter is solely of local or municipal concern and the city has acted with reference to it, the municipality’s action will supersede any conflicting state statute regulating the same matter.

https://scholar.law.colorado.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2154&context=articles

Tami Tanoue of CIRSA came to the Board to present about Home Rule in November 2019. For the items presented at that meeting, you may peruse:

Some other resources I’ve found useful:

Why do I support a transition to home rule?

Erie is the largest Statutory Town in Colorado. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cities_and_towns_in_Colorado

For the sake of this analysis (and knowing we’re approaching 30,000 residents, not 20,000!), let’s use the 2014 population estimates from Wikipedia:

  • Erie is the largest Statutory Town in Colorado (20,493) with Superior (12,855), Firestone (11,537), and Frederick (10,927) far behind. The median population of a Statutory Town in Colorado is 655 people. In this regard alone, different is bad. Every single Colorado municipality our size has already gone home rule.
  • Were a home rule charter to include wards (as in Broomfield), we could ensure a more representative democracy to give a voice to neighborhoods such as Old Town who have traditionally been under-represented on the Board of Trustees.
  • Home rule will allow the charter commission to explore interesting options like that used by the City of Lafayette – the people elect Council members, who in turn “elect one of its members to serve as Mayor and one to serve as Mayor Pro Tem.”
  • The people of Erie will be able to choose as they see fit – between a weak mayor, strong mayor, or council-manager form of government (see pp17 of the Local Government Handbook for an explanation).

The Rumor Mill

To dispel a few rumors spread via social media:

  • No, the current Board does not support home rule so they can gain more power. Tami Tanoue of CIRSA suggested that no more than one of the existing Board members serve on the charter commission of 9 to 21 members. Existing Board members will have to run for positions on the new council. It is meant to be a charter for the people, by the people.
  • No, the current Board does not want to raise taxes. Home rule municipalities do have the authority to self-collect taxes; this would require a substantial increase in Finance department staff. They can also levy taxes on any sales that are exempt from state sales tax. The Board has not discussed any such taxes. In either case, the decision to do so would be entirely up to
  • No, it is not how any other municipality has successfully used their Home Rule status to ban oil & gas development.