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:
- A Home Rule Summary,
- The presentation given by Tami Tanoue of CIRSA,
- The video of the meeting,
- The City of Loveland Home Rule Charter, which Tami suggested for Erie’s charter commission to use as a model.
Some other resources I’ve found useful:
- The Powers of Home Rule Cities in Colorado, a scholarly article by Howard C. Clemme of the University of Colorado Law School
- Colorado Local Government Handbook, the discussion about home rule begins on pp 17.
- A fight to lead our cities: Councils and mayors battle for control, from the Colorado Springs Gazette
Why do I support a transition to home rule?
- 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.