History of the Home Rule Charter

In November, 1974, the people of Weld County elected a commission to draft a Home Rule Charter. For almost eight months the commission held meetings and gathered input from the public regarding a home rule charter. The study was comprehensive and thorough. County officials and employees, citizens groups and interested individuals appeared before the full commission as well as the committees.

During the study many ideas were discussed. One new concept adopted was the County Council. The Charter Commission felt the Council would be an important link between the citizen and the array of elected and appointed local government officials.

On September 9, 1975, the voters of Weld County voted to approve the Home Rule Charter and it became the official form of government for Weld County on January 1, 1976.

Weld County is one of only two Colorado counties (Pitkin County is the other) that have gone home rule.

Preamble to the Home Rule Charter

“We, the people of Weld County, Colorado, in order to avail ourselves of self-determination in county affairs to the fullest extent permissible under the Constitution and laws of the State of Colorado, and in order to provide uncomplicated, unburdensome government responsive to the people, and in order to provide for the most efficient and effective county government possible, do hereby ordain, establish and adopt this Home Rule Charter for Weld County, Colorado.”

Summary from the 1975 “Blue Book”

“County government, as Weld County has known it, dates  back to territorial days before Colorado was a state. It has remained essentially unchanged for more than a IMG_3990century. In 1970, an amendment  to the Colorado Constitution granted to counties the power to adopt home rule charters.

Home rule, in this context, refers to the power of a local government to manage its own affairs and to draft its own charter. At the general election in 1974 the electors of Weld County voted to for a Charter Commission for the purpose of drafting a proposed charter. This 21-member commission held 39 regular meetings, more than 35 sub-committee meetings and 14 public hearings before the proposed charter was submitted to the County Commissioners.”

How the 1976 Charter structured county government

BiddingCounty contract bidding is to be “open and competitive.” Weld County bidders are to be given preference if the price and quality are competitive. The Commissioners must state their reasons publicly when other than the low bid is chosen. A ten day study period is required on all bids over $2,000.

Budget and Finance - Any increase in the mill levy about 5% must be referred to the County Council or the voters.
 
Citizen’s Advisory Boards - The Planning and Public Health Boards and the Board of (Zoning) Adjustments are expanded from the current five members to nine members each. Six members will be chosen from geographic districts, three at-large. All appointed board-commission members are limited 
to two consecutive three-year terms.
 
Commissioners - The Board of Commissioners went from three members to five. Each Commissioner can serve a maximum of two consecutive four-year terms.
 
County Attorney - The Board of Commissioners will appoint a full-time County Attorney. Presently, the County Attorney is hired on an hourly basis as needed. 
 
County Council - The Charter creates a 5-member, unsalaried County Council. They will be elected on a nonpartisan basis, 
3 from districts, 2 at-large for a maximum of 2 four-year terms. The duties of the Council are to set elected 
officer salaries, review government performance and appoint a performance auditor if deemed necessary, 
fill commissioner vacancies, have authority to increase the maximum budget under certain circumstances 
and rule on conflict of interest.
 
County Departments - The Charter provides for five major departments which are coordinated by the commissioners. The Commissioner Chairman is elected by the Board annually and coordinates the Finance, Purchasing and Personnel Departments.
 
Elected Officers - The Sheriff, Treasurer, Assessor, Clerk and Recorder, and Coroner are retained as elected posts. The only elected position to be abolished is the County Surveyor whose functions will be placed in the Engineering Services Department. Professional experience and educational qualifications are required for Sheriff and the appointed Undersheriff. No professional qualifications are set for other elected offices, although the chief deputies in the Treasurer and Assessor offices must meet professional standards.
 
Personnel - A central county personnel system is established. Controls are set on county officer and employee conflicts-of-interest.
 
Recall, Referendum and Initiative - The right of the citizens to petition for recall, referendum, and initiative is granted by the Charter. The electorate also may petition to amend or repeal the Charter.

History of Amendments

There have been 17 amendments to the Weld County Home Rule Charter throughout the years. Only one amendment was started by petition (1995, Amendment 15-5).  Ad Hoc Home Rule Charter Study Committees have been used only twice in the history of the Charter, once for amendments in 2001 and again in 2007. The Board of County Commissioners is not required to form an Ad Hoc Charter Study Committee but can in order to involve the public in reviewing and making recommendations regarding the governing document.