Eagle’s home rule charter almost ready
Commission to submit charter to public, Town Board this month
- Eagle’s home rule charter commission meets at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Eagle’s town hall to finish hammering the charter’s details.
- The commission will host two public hearings, Jan. 15 and Jan. 22, to collect public input.
- The commission will submit the charter to the town board by the end of January, so the board can vote whether to put it on April’s municipal election ballot for an up-or-down vote by the town’s voters.
EAGLE — Eagle is poised to grow significantly, and to deal with that growth, the town will ask voters to approve the change from a statutory government to home rule, or self-government.
Eagle’s home rule charter commission, chaired by Brent McFall, is wrapping up heavy lifting this week and will unveil the proposed home rule charter in a pair of public meetings later this month.
“Only after we have completed the two public meetings will it be finalized and submitted to the Town Board,” McFall said.
If the Town Board approves it, Eagle voters will have their say during the town’s municipal elections in April.
Why home rule?
Eagle is one of Colorado’s few remaining statutory towns. That means Eagle is a division of the state government, and can only exercise powers that state law grants. State legislators come and go, but their policies remain.
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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.
So, instead of asking the state before the town can act, the town can act on its own authority, McFall said.
For example, some time ago Eagle wanted to pay its planning and zoning commission members $1,200 a year. The state doesn’t have a law for that, so Eagle couldn’t.
Town officials had to schlep to Denver and the state Legislature, where they had to convince lawmakers and the governor to pass a state law allowing them to pay their P&Z commission.
‘The vast majority’
Eagle and Red Cliff are Eagle County’s only statutory towns.
“Home rule is not groundbreaking,” McFall said. “The vast majority of towns around the state are home rule.”
Of Colorado’s 271 municipalities, 101 are home rule. Those 101 home-rule communities are home to more than 90% of Colorado’s town residents.
Statewide, 93.44% of Coloradans who live in cities and towns reside in a home-rule municipality, according to the Colorado Municipal League.
“It is by far the predominant form of government,” McFall said.
The basics of the town government would not change, McFall said. The Town Board would still be nonpartisan and comprise seven members — six board members and the mayor.
A home rule charter also cannot authorize any new taxes and does not fiddle with the state’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights regulations that require voters to approve tax increases.