Re: TOWN CHARTER VOTE
There has been a lot of confusion and misinformation being spread re: the Town Charter vote that will coming up in September. The lack of a charter, and the importance of having one, has been discussed at council meetings for the last 2 years. However, there are some still spreading misinformation and causing confusion about it. As such, the council members have asked the town lawyer to write up the following statement to help clarify. Please note, the September vote is ONLY a yes/no vote of if the town would like to become a charter town. If the answer is yes, then a second vote will occur after that to decide the specific charter wording. The charter helps protect the citizens, and their wants and opinions. As such, we want everyone to be fully informed when they go to vote on the topic. If there are any further questions, please direct them to your ward council rep. Also, please make it a point to attend monthly council meetings in order to stay informed in the future.
Your Bethel Acres Town Council
What is a Charter?
A Charter is a document that defines the organization, powers, functions, and essential procedures of a municipal government. It is comparable to the Constitution of the U.S. or Oklahoma. For an existing municipality, a charter can be implemented only by a vote of the citizens of that municipality.
How Does a Town Implement a Charter?
Any city or town with a population of 2,000 inhabitants or more (based on latest federal census) may frame a charter for its own government. To form a charter, the mayor of an incorporated municipality shall issue an order calling for an election on the question as well as elect a board of freeholders to prepare the charter when:
1.) A petition is signed by at least 25% of the registered voters of the municipality as shown by the preceding general election is filed; or
2.) The governing body, by resolution, so directs. The order calling for the election shall be issued within 10 days after a petition has been filed with the governing body or within 10 days after the date of the governing body resolution.
The election on the question shall be held at a general or special election in the municipality within 30 days after the order calling for the election. Notice shall be given in the same manner required for municipal elections.
If the citizens of the Town vote that the Town should become a Charter Town, then the proposed Charter will be put to a vote of the people to approve or disapprove. If the proposed Charter is approved by a vote of the people, then it is submitted to the Governor for final approver.
Why is a Charter beneficial?
A Charter memorializes the most important provisions of the Town’s municipal government, along with other provisions that are important to the Town (i.e. the five-acre rule). Once established, a charter can only be amended or changed by a vote of the people. This protects the Charter provisions from being changed by a new Board of Trustees in the future.