What is Home Rule?

    “In Colorado, municipal “home rule” is a form of government under the control of local citizens rather than state government, with powers and authority derived from the municipality’s locally enacted charter and ordinances, rather than state statutes. It affords citizens of cities and towns who adopt a local charter freedom from the need for state enabling legislation and protection from state interference in “local and municipal matters”.
    - Colorado Municipal League, Home Rule Handbook for Colorado’s Cities & Towns (January 2017)  

    In laymen’s terms – “home rule” is a form of government based on a charter written by residents rather than following state statute. It is based upon the theory that the residents in the community know best how to solve local issues. Home Rule is all about YOU! If the community votes to “go Home Rule”, the Charter the Town uses to govern the community will be created by residents for residents.

    What types of local matters might Home Rule impact?

    Finance and Taxation 

    1. Broader and more flexible taxing powers, including:

    • Authority to levy taxes not available to statutory municipalities, such as lodging taxes, admissions taxes, and other excise taxes.
    • The ability to collect, administer, and enforce sales and use taxes.*
    • The ability to determine what transactions are subject to or exempt from sales and use taxes.
    • The ability to establish procedures for the adoption, amendment, increase, or decrease of taxes.
    • The ability to provide property tax increase limits different from those provided for in the statutes. 

    *If the Town expands sales and use tax bases, then we would potentially have to self-collect. The State does not collect use tax, so if voters approved a use tax, the Town would need to self-collect.. Self-collecting taxes could require expanding the Town’s Finance Department.

    2.  Within limits, establish a tax base that is not uniform with the State of Colorado tax base (numerous home rule municipalities have a broader tax base, with fewer tax exemptions).

    Examples include:

    • Pollution tax
    • Business/consumer use tax (owed on the business purchase of assets, equipment and supplies where sales taxes have not been paid)
    • Tax on manufacturers equipment
    • Computer software
    • Interstate telecommunications
    • Taxes due on the tangible personal property included in the purchase of an existing business within Erie
    • Occupational privilege tax (employment head tax)
    • Maintenance services (copier or medical equipment maintenance service agreement where parts/equipment replacement could be taxed)

    3. Simplify or otherwise revise procedures for budget and appropriation adoption, amendment, and transfer of funds.

    4. Establish maximum debt limitations.

    5. Establish limitations for the repayment of municipal bonds.

    Land Use

    1. Have greater control over zoning issues.

    • Including restriction or elimination of nonconforming uses, permitting, sign codes, and basic zone district regulations. (Note: These would still be subject to constitutional limits.)

    2. Modify the composition and powers of the Planning Commission and Board of Adjustment.


    1. Establish procedures and dates for municipal elections differing from those established by State statute, including such matters as regular and special election dates and the dates when elected officials will take office.

    2. Modify local procedures for initiative, referendum, and recall. 

    3. Modify procedures for filling vacancies in elected offices.

    4. Specify a minimum age for elected officials or other requirements.


    1. Determine the form of government and administrative structure, including:

    • The size of the governing body.
    • The powers of elected and appointed officials.
    • The terms of office of elected officials and whether they are elected from districts or at-large.
    • Set term limits for elected and appointed officials.
    • Establish ethics, gift, and conflict-of-interest requirements for elected and appointed officials.
    • Set local campaign spending and disclosure requirements.
    • Determine quorum and voting requirements.
    • The manner of filling vacancies.
    • The respective powers of elected and appointed officials, boards and commissions, and staff.

    2. Establish procedures for the adoption of ordinances and resolutions; determining:

    • Whether actions need be taken by ordinance, resolution, or motion.
    • Procedures for notice, hearing, publication, or posting of ordinances.
    • Publishing ordinances by title only.
    • Determination of the effective date of ordinances.

    3. Modify procedures pertaining to regular and special meetings and executive sessions.

    4. Expand the jurisdiction of municipal courts (e.g. increased nuisance abatement authority).

    5. Establish procedures for the sale or disposal of public property and the awarding of contracts.

    6. Determine the qualifications of municipal officers and employees.

    7. Establish maximum terms for public utility franchises.

    What are the potential disadvantages of Home Rule?

    1. The possibility of a restrictive Charter that could make completing Town business more difficult.
    2. The drafting and adoption of a Home Rule Charter will require Town funds to support the project.
    3. Some residents may see the possibility of a Home Rule Charter to provide expanded municipal authority over certain matters as a disadvantage.
    4. Some potential changes (local tax collection, election changes, etc.) may require adding multiple additional staff to Town government. This comes with budgetary considerations for salary, benefits, physical space expansion, etc.

    What are the procedures for adopting a Home Rule Charter?

    Adopting a Home Rule Charter involves three primary steps:

    1. Adoption of an ordinance by the Board of Trustees, or by submitting a petition to the Board of Trustees signed by not less than 5% of the registered voters in the Town of Erie. 
    2. Conducting an election to adopt or disapprove the proposed Home Rule Charter.
    3. Conducting an election to elect the Charter Commission members who will prepare a draft Charter.

    Who writes the new Charter?

    An elected body of Charter Commissions would be responsible for creating the new Charter for the Town's governance. 

    This Commission is a group of residents who are elected by all Erie residents at large. They would be added to the November ballot and voted into this short-term Commission. The Commission's only role is to write a draft Charter to be voted on by the people. Once their draft Charter is completed and added to the next ballot to be voted on, the Commission is disbanded. 

    Any interested candidates for the Charter Commission will need to officially put their name in for candidacy by the end of summer. More information will be forthcoming. 

    Is the Charter voted in "all or nothing" or piecemeal?

    The Charter as drafted will be voted on as an "all or nothing" governing document. 

    When it is placed on the ballot, the document will either be accepted as a whole, or denied as a whole. There will not be an option to keep certain parts and not others. 

    And the document will give future direction. So for example, if the Commission decides to change the size of the current Board of Trustees, that would not happen immediately after the Charter was approved. Instead, a new election would need to be planned and administered by the Town Clerk following that new Charter's approval.