SOUTH FORK — The South Fork Town Board of Trustees has initiated the process for the town to consider becoming a Home Rule Charter Municipality.
South Fork is currently a statutory town and is subject to regulation following state statute, but becoming a home rule charter municipality would allow the town to have more control over its own local governance and adapt to local issues as they pertain to municipal matters.
According to Town Manager Tom Acre, the state would still have control on legislative matters that are deemed a statewide concern. Acre said the home rule charter must be carefully written and if the charter is overly restrictive, the flexibility of being a home rule municipality may be lost.
“It is difficult to amend a charter, so it is important to try and look to the future when writing the charter. Current ‘hot button’ topics should be avoided in drafting a home rule charter, as they may not be important down the road,” said Acre.
The first step in the process is to put a ballot question to a vote of the town electorate on whether or not to commission a Home Rule Charter. Acre explained that this would be a special mail-in election on July 18. During the same election, the registered voters in South Fork will vote on a selection of candidates to be named as the charter commission which will become the governing board of the home rule charter.
If the ballot measure passes and the charter commission is elected, the Home Rule Charter Commission will immediately begin meeting to draft the South Fork Home Rule Charter. The charter commission requires the election of nine members, all of whom are required to be registered voters residing in the town limits. Candidate petitions are currently available at town hall for anyone interested in running for a charter commission seat.
If the voters pass the ballot question to consider South Fork becoming a Home Rule Charter Municipality and to elect a Home Rule Charter Commission, the commission will have 180 days to draft and present a charter to the town board. During this time, public input will be sought by the charter commission. The Home Rule Charter as adopted by the South Fork Board of Trustees will then be voted on by all registered voters in the town of South Fork at the April 3, 2018 regular town election.
A fact sheet and overview of Home Rule Charter is available at town hall, or call 719-873-0152 with any questions. As the process moves forward, the town will offer information about Home Rule Charter Municipalities and what it could mean for the community to inform the public. Please make sure voter registration information is up to date with the Rio Grande County Clerk’s office located at 965 6th Street, Del Norte.