Municipal Charter

The term “municipal charter” refers to a legislative enactment conferring governmental powers of the state to its local agencies.

“A municipal charter is foundational law for a town in the same way that a constitution is for a state or the nation. A charter is the organic, the fundamental law, establishing basic principles governing relationships between the government and the people, and among the various governmental branches and bodies.  A municipal charter is construed according to the same rules of construction that govern the construction of statutes.” Clough v. Mayor & Council of Hurlock, 445 M.D. 364 (2015).

“A municipal charter is the constitution of a municipality.  Through constitutional provisions and statutory enactments, the people of a municipality have the greatest possible quantum of power of self-government.”  Deluca v. City of Aurora, 144 Ohio App.3d 501 (2001).

“A municipal charter is the equivalent of a statute or other legislation. When we interpret a municipal charter, such as the one here, we apply the same rules that we use when interpreting a statute. Our primary goal is to give effect to the charter’s intent, and we do so by looking to the charter’s plain language.  We consider that language in the context of the entire charter, and we must give effect to the ordinary meaning of the language.  We must, if possible, read the charter as a unit, construing each provision consistently and in harmony with the overall statutory design.  If we conclude that the language in a section of the charter is clear and that we can discern the city’s intent in enacting the section with certainty, then we do not resort to other rules of statutory interpretation.  And we defer to the interpretation of the municipal agency charged with administering the section unless that interpretation is inconsistent with the legislative intent manifested in the text of the charter.  When statutory law and common law interact, we recognize a legislative body’s authority to modify or abrogate common law, but we can only recognize such changes when they are clearly expressed. We construe such statutes strictly.  If a legislative body wants to abrogate rights that the common law provides, it must manifest its intent either expressly or by clear implication.  Our review of the trial court’s interpretation of a charter’s language is de novo.”  Friends of Denver Parks, Inc. v. Denver, 327 P.3d 311 (Colo. App. 2013).

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