How to Write a City Charter

In any new community that has been incorporated, the most crucial thing you can do is form a city charter. A charter is the first version of city government in the same capacity as the Constitution functions for a national government. Writing your city charter will be a unique once in a lifetime ordeal. It will have an influence over the lives of your friends, family and neighbors for many years to come. Here is how you can write your very own city charter.


Step 1

Get a boilerplate document to use as a working draft of your charter. This draft will give you a great starting point but will help to demonstrate samples of vital charter provisions. You may not be aware of some of these provisions separately. The municipal government in your state should be able to give you a draft document for your use. The city charter is a public record so you can request a copy of a city charter from surrounding cities as well.

Step 2

State law will require the people’s majority vote to approve the city charter. So, you will need to get the community behind you. Do this by forming a committee of leaders in the community. Also, you can have public hearing so the citizens will have an opportunity to be heard. These public hearing should give the citizens a sense of ownership and should give you a platform to win their votes when the time presents itself.

Step 3

Do your research. Look in neighboring town to see how well some charter provisions worked. For example, if you want to write in a provision in your charter that mandates a city wide selection of all city councilmen, then you should look to neighboring cities to see if that provision is being practiced. Look at old newspapers and periodicals. Talk to the other community leaders to get advice. Document the advantages and disadvantages of a process like this. Take the time to learn from the successful experiences and mistakes of people who came before you.

Step 4

Find the balance between honoring the rights of the citizens and being able to function as a city without the voter approval at every step. It may be a great idea to require a city wide vote before the government could increase taxes, but it may not be the best way to approve raises for city workers like Firemen, Policemen and other occupations. Take the middle course in these matters. Try not to lean too far to the right or left in your decision making.

Step 5

Stipulate the reasons for every charter provision based on research and citizen desires. This will help you demonstrate, if necessary, that the charter was thought out and written in a reasonable manner. Make this documentation public on the internet where voters can read it and make an informed decision before the polls open.

Filed Under: General How To's


About the Author: Bruno Silva is an entrepreneur from Portugal with over 15 years of experience in Online Marketing. He is also a blogger and writes on variety of topics from online marketing to designs, cars to loans, etc.

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