Eagle readies home rule charter
Charter goes to Town Board on Tuesday, then to voters in April
EAGLE — Eagle’s proposed home rule charter does not give the town the power to raise taxes — or add new taxes — without a public vote.
Eagle’s home rule charter commission wrapped up weeks of work to create what amounts to the town’s new constitution. Among the first questions the commission tackled weeks ago, and one of the last things they made certain of during Wednesday’s final commission meeting, was whether anything in the charter allows the town to raise taxes without public approval.
Satisfied that it does not, Eagle’s home rule charter commission voted unanimously to approve the proposed charter and send it to the Town Board. The sparse crowd at Wednesday’s meeting applauded the commission’s decision.
The Town Board is expected to approve it during Tuesday’s meeting, placing it before Eagle voters on the town’s April municipal election ballot.
Doesn’t tinker with TABOR
During this week’s final home rule charter commission meeting, member Charlie Wick told his fellow members that the question about taxes is the one he faces most.
A home rule charter cannot authorize any new taxes, several commission members explained, and does not fiddle with Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights that has been enshrined in Colorado’s constitution since 1992.
Home rule would remove the town from being subject to the whims of the state legislature, said Brent McFall, the home rule commission chairman.
A community’s constitution
A home rule charter is essentially a constitution for the town, outlining the powers and authorities the town’s voters grant to its municipal government.
For now, Eagle and Red Cliff are Eagle County’s only statutory towns. That means they are a division of the state government, and can only exercise powers that are granted by state law. State legislators come and go, but their policies remain.
So, instead of asking the state before the town can act, the town can act on its own authority, McFall said.
Statewide, 93.44% of Coloradans who live in cities and towns reside in a home rule municipality, according to the Colorado Municipal League.
The basics of the town government would not change, McFall said. The Town Board would still be nonpartisan and comprised of seven members — six board members and the mayor.
Eagle already supports it
Most Eagle voters already support the idea. A survey by Magellan Strategies before the home rule charter commission started its work found that 74% of Eagle voters support home rule after learning that federal and state laws — such as TABOR — still apply, but the town would have the power to create its own laws and policies without state interference.
The same survey found that 71% of Eagle voters support home rule to allow residents to control the way the town changes and grows.