Model City Charter—9th Edition: Article X: Transition and Severability


Many charters do not facilitate transition from an old to a new form of government organization. More than almost any other part of the charter, the article containing transitional provisions needs to be tailored to existing law and organization. The Model makes no claim to being complete in this regard but calls attention to matters that must be considered and provides a basic pattern for a transition article. Care in the preparation of this article will have important benefits. It can disarm arguments that adoption of a new charter will harm existing personnel and the processes of the government. It may also save the city from costly litigation and administrative confusion.

Section 10.01. Officers and Employees.

(a) Rights and Privileges Preserved. Nothing in this charter except as otherwise specifically provided shall affect or impair the rights or privileges of persons who are city officers or employees at the time of its adoption.

(b) Continuance of Office or Employment. Except as specifically provided by this charter, if at the time this charter takes full effect, a city administrative officer or employee holds any office or position which is or can be abolished by or under this charter, he or she shall continue in such office or position until the taking effect of some specific provision under this charter directing that he or she vacate the office or position.

(c) Personnel System. An employee holding a city position at the time this charter takes full effect, who was serving in that same or a comparable position at the time of its adoption, shall not be subject to competitive tests as a condition of continuance in the same position but in all other respects shall be subject to the personnel system provided for in § 4.02.

Section 10.02. Departments, Offices, and Agencies.

(a) Transfer of Powers. If a city department, office or agency is abolished by this charter, the powers and duties given it by law shall be transferred to the city department, office or agency designated in this charter or, if the charter makes no provision, designated by the city council.

(b) Property and Records. All property, records and equipment of any department, office or agency existing when this charter is adopted shall be transferred to the department, office or agency assuming its powers and duties, but, in the event that the powers or duties are to be discontinued or divided between units or in the event that any conflict arises regarding a transfer, such property, records or equipment shall be transferred to one or more departments, offices or agencies designated by the city council in accordance with this charter.

Section 10.03. Pending Matters.

All rights, claims, actions, orders, contracts, and legal administrative proceedings shall continue except as modified pursuant to the provisions of this charter and in each case shall be maintained, carried on or dealt with by the city department, office or agency appropriate under this charter.

Section 10.04. State and Municipal Laws.

(a) In General. All city ordinances, resolutions, orders and regulations which are in force when this charter becomes fully effective are repealed to the extent that they are inconsistent or interfere with the effective operation of this charter or of ordinances or resolutions adopted pursuant thereto. To the extent that the constitution and laws of the state of         permit, all laws relating to or affecting this city or its agencies, officers or employees which are in force when this charter becomes fully effective are superseded to the extent that they are inconsistent or interfere with the effective operation of this charter or of ordinances or resolutions adopted pursuant thereto.

(b) Specific Provisions. Without limitation of the general operation of subsection (a) or of the number of nature of the provisions to which it applies:

  1. The following laws and parts of laws generally affecting counties or city agencies, officers or employees are inapplicable to the city of _________________ or its agencies, officers or employees: [enumeration]
  2. The following public local laws relating to the city of are superseded: [enumeration]
  3. The following ordinances, resolutions, orders, and regulations of                                                                                          [former city governing body] are repealed: [enumeration]

Section 10.05. Schedule.

(a) First Election. At the time of its adoption, this charter shall be in effect to the extent necessary in order that the first election of members of the city council may be conducted in accordance with the provisions of this charter. The first election shall be held on the      of        . The [city officials to be designated] shall prepare and adopt temporary regulations that are applicable only to the first election and designed to ensure its proper conduct and to prevent fraud and provide for a recount of ballots in cases of doubt or fraud.

(b) Time of Taking Full Effect. The charter shall be in full effect for all purposes on and after the date and time of the first meeting of the newly elected city council provided in § 9.05(c).

(c) First Council Meeting. On the                               of          following the first election of city council members under this charter, the newly elected members of the council shall meet at          [time] at                                  [place]:

  1. For the purpose of electing the [mayor and] deputy mayor, appointing or considering the appointment of a city manager or acting city manager, and choosing, if it so desires, one of its members to act as temporary clerk pending appointment of a city clerk pursuant to § 2.08; and Note: Omit bracketed words if 2.03, Alternative II is used.
  2. For the purpose of adopting ordinances and resolutions necessary to effect the transition of government under this charter and to maintain effective city government during that transition.

(d) Temporary Ordinances. In adopting ordinances as provided in § 10.05(c), the city council shall follow the procedures prescribed in § 2.13, except that at its first meeting or any meeting held within sixty days thereafter, the council may adopt temporary ordinances to deal with cases in which there is an urgent need for prompt action in connection with the transition of government and in which the delay incident to the appropriate ordinance procedure would probably cause serious hardship or impairment of effective city government. Every temporary ordinance shall be plainly labeled as such but shall be introduced in the form and manner prescribed for ordinances generally. A temporary ordinance may be considered and may be adopted with or without amendment or rejected at the meeting at which it is introduced. After adoption of a temporary ordinance, the council shall cause it to be printed and published as prescribed for other adopted ordinances. A temporary ordinance shall become effective upon adoption or at such later time preceding automatic repeal under this subsection as it may specify, and the referendum power shall not extend to any such ordinance. Every temporary ordinance, including any amendments made thereto after adoption, shall automatically stand repealed as of the ninety-first day following the date on which it was adopted, renewed, or otherwise continued except by adoption in the manner prescribed in § 2.13 for ordinances of the kind concerned.

(e) Initial Expenses. The initial expenses of the city council, including the expense of recruiting a city manager, shall be paid by the city on vouchers signed by the council chairman.

(f) Initial Salary of Mayor and Council Members. The mayor shall receive an annual salary in the amount of $         and each other council member in the amount of $                     , until such amount is changed by the council in accordance with the provisions of this charter.

Section 10.06. Severability.

If any provision of this charter is held invalid, the other provisions of the charter shall not be affected. If the application of the charter or any of its provisions to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the application of the charter and its provisions to other persons or circumstances shall not be affected.


A severability clause is a necessary precaution and should be included in every charter.

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