Model City Charter—9th Edition: Article IX: Charter Amendment


All charters require modification from time to time. In states where the constitution or statutes prohibit cities from adopting their own methods of charter revision, this article cannot be used.

Section 9.01. Proposal of Amendment.

Amendments to this charter may be framed and proposed:

(a) In the manner provided by law, or
(b) By ordinance of the council containing the full text of the proposed amendment and effective upon adoption, or
(c) By report of a charter commission created by ordinance, or
(d) By the voters of the city.

Proposal of an amendment must be submitted to the Clerk in advance of a petition and reviewed by the City Attorney for conformity with this Charter, legality and for the City Attorney to provide a title to be used on the petition and ballot and a description of the effect of the proposed charter amendment.  Upon approval of sufficiency of the proposed amendment, the amendment will be submitted to the voters of the city.

A proposed amendment initiated by the voters shall be by petition containing the description of the amendment and title approved by the City Attorney and on forms issued by the Clerk. The subject matter of a charter amendment must not be legislative and must be directed at the form of government and governance of the city authorizing or limiting its powers and directing the manner of exercise of those powers.  The petition must be signed by registered voters of the city equal in number to at least [5 to 10] percent of the total number of those registered to vote at the last regular city election. The petitioners’ committee may withdraw the petition at any time before the Clerk certifies the petition for sufficiency.


This article lists four methods for proposing charter amendments. The first references any methods which are provided by state law, and the second is by the council itself. The third is by a charter commission, which in many states may be created by the council. Depending on the state, the procedures binding the charter commission may be found in the constitution or state law. Often the procedures allow formation of the charter commission by petition or by ordinance.

The final method of charter amendment is by a voter-initiated petition. The signature requirement for charter amendment petitions should be a fixed percentage between five and ten percent of registered city voters. It is important that the number of signatures required be substantial. It should be relatively difficult to amend the charter, and charter amendments should not be used to harass officials. Charter Amendments should only include charter material and should not include legislative material. A Charter is intended to be a constitution, not a code of laws.

Section 9.02. Election.

Upon delivery to the city election authorities of the report of a charter commission or delivery by the city clerk of an adopted ordinance or a petition finally determined sufficient, proposing an amendment pursuant to § 9.01, the election authorities shall submit the proposed amendment to the voters of the city at an election. Such election shall be announced by a notice containing the complete text of the proposed amendment and published in one or more newspapers of general circulation in the city at least thirty days prior to the date of the election. The election shall be held not less than 60 and not more than 120 days after the adoption of the ordinance or report or the final determination of sufficiency of the petition proposing the amendment. If no regular election is to be held within that period, the council shall provide for a special election on the proposed amendment; otherwise, the holding of a special election shall be as specified in state law.

Section 9.03. Adoption of Amendment.

If a majority of those voting upon a proposed charter amendment vote in favor of it, the amendment shall become effective at the time fixed in the amendment or, if no time is therein fixed, 30 days after its adoption by the voters.

Return to Model City Charter—9th Edition: Table of Contents

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