Home Rule Frequently Asked Questions
The biggest areas where change can be affected through Home Rule revolve around community development and the overall financial well being of the Town.
The State imposes several laws on statutory municipalities that tend to restrict land use and zoning. By becoming Home Rule, Milliken would have more control over how the community is developed. It’s easier to give economic incentives to incoming businesses as a Home Rule community as well.
By going Home Rule, Milliken would also have access to more revenue generating opportunities. For example, with voter approval, the Town could adopt more types of taxes that are not available as a statutory municipality, such as lodging tax and some user fees.
Are there any cons to going Home Rule?
Overall, the main disadvantages of becoming Home Rule come into play if the charter is not written well. Residents can influence this by encouraging the solid candidates to serve on the commission.
Cons could include:
- The cost, time and resources needed to hold the Home Rule elections
- If the charter is ambiguous or unclear, we may need to go back to the voters and ask for clarification on certain topics through another vote
- If the charter is too restrictive, then it can limit the flexibility that the Town could have experienced by going Home Rule
- If the charter is not restrictive enough, then the local government could exercise more power than the residents would like
- If any “hot topics” are included in the charter, then a permanent solution to a short-term problem is put in place, which could cause issues in the future
An election typically costs $10,000-12,000, however at least one of the Home Rule elections will coincide with a Weld County election. In this case, the cost to Milliken is reduced to about $5,100 and the County covers the other costs.
The cost of one election has already been built into the 2017 Town budget, and the same will be done for the 2018 budget should an election be needed next year.
The cost of the Charter Committee is minimal, and only includes staff time to attend extra meetings and any materials that the Committee may need.
Who else has a Home Rule form of government?
More than 91% of Colorado residents live in a Home Rule community. Neighboring municipalities that are Home Rule include Johnstown, Hudson, Windsor, Weld County, Evans and Dacono. Most large cities in Colorado are also Home Rule – this includes Greeley, Fort Collins and Loveland.
What are the limits of Home Rule?
Although going to Home Rule gives local municipalities more freedoms, some laws and constitutions must still be followed:
- Federal and state constitutions still apply as they provide provisions and protections to residents
- Federal and state laws that address matters that are more of statewide or national concern still apply
- Other national and state tax-related laws such as the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) and the Gallagher Amendment still apply
During the process of changing to Home Rule, anything required of staff would be built into their normal work. Some extra staff time would be needed to attend the Charter Commission meetings. When the charter is passed, no extra work is needed to enact it. One decision the Town can make as this point is whether or not to self-collect sales tax. If that is pursued, than an additional employee or company would be hired to handle that.
Will changing to Home Rule make it easier for the Town to raise my taxes?
No, any increase in taxes will still require residents to vote on the matter. By changing to Home Rule, the Town has the option to adopt more types of taxes that are not available to statutory municipalities (such as lodging tax and user fees), but those would also need to be approved by the voters.
How does this change affect sales tax collections?
As a statutory Town, the State is currently in charge of collecting sales tax for Milliken, and the Town receives the money about 2 months after the collection. With Home Rule, the Town will have the option to self-collect sales tax, and overall would be able to have access to those funds quicker.
Does it become any more difficult to obtain State funding after going Home Rule?
No, becoming Home Rule will not have any influence of obtaining state or national funding.
Why should Milliken change to Home Rule now?
Although there are currently no pressing matters that would be influenced by this change, now is a very opportune time for the change. It will be beneficial to create this government framework to ensure that the Town grows in the right way. Changing to Home Rule would allow for more efficiency, more revenue generating options, and more control over land use, which can all be beneficial in the long term.
What else do I need to know about the forming of the Charter Commission and how writing the charter gets started?
There are several things to be aware of as the Charter Commission begins to get formed:
- The Commission can include 9-21 members, and the Board of Trustees will determine how many should be on Milliken’s Commission. An odd number is needed since the Commission will vote on certain matters.
- Trustees are allowed to run to be on the committee, and the commission is allowed to collaborate with Trustees not on the commission if insight from them is needed.
- Candidates for the commission are nominated by a petition signed by at least 25 registered voters submitted within 30 days after the election notice.
- During the election to determine the Commission members, those with the highest number of votes will become part of the Commission.
- The most effective process of starting to write the charter is to refer to the charters of other municipalities that are written well. The Commission can follow that example to create the document framework, and fit in the pieces related to Milliken from there.