Home Rule - Charter Ordinances

State laws usually apply to specific sizes or types of local government, e.g., classes of cities, townships, districts, counties, etc. Some laws, written for a specific local government, do not apply uniformly to all members of that local government. For these cases, Kansas Constitutional amendment Article Twelve, Section 5 gives local government powers of "home rule" to write charter ordinances opting out of the application of that law.

Home Rule Charter Ordinances can effect libraries in two ways.

Way 1: Public libraries can use charter ordinances to correct difficulties.
  • K.S.A. 12-1222 says, "All members appointed to a library board shall be residents of the municipality" and K.S.A. 15-209 for third class cities and K.S.A. 14-209 for second class cities says appointed officers shall be "qualified electors" of the city, with the exceptions of city lawyers, judges, and police officers. Some libraries have difficulty finding within city limits seven residents or "qualified electors" willing to sit on the board. Since these restrictions do not apply to all library boards, charter ordinances can revise these restrictions. Sample resolution.

  • A.G.O. 2013-19 says, “The head of the municipality who serves as an ex officio member of the library board should be counted in calculating the library board’s quorum requirement.” This means a quorum for the library board is now five, not four, members. Library law does not allows mayors to appoint voting proxies, but local law can be changed using a charter ordinance. Sample charter ordinance

  • Formoso passed a charter ordinance revising the "qualified electors" requirement so teens could sit on the library board. Sample charter ordinance

  • Consultants of the Central Kansas Library System can provided examples of these charter ordinances and help you write others.
Here is how charter ordinances are passed.
  1. The library board passes a resolution asking the city to enact the home rule charter ordinance amendment. The library should provide a clear and strong justification for requesting this change.

  2. If approved by two-thirds vote of the city council a charter ordinance is prepared and published in the official newspaper for two consecutive weeks.

  3. If a petition of at least 10% of voters is NOT received withing 60 days of the last publication of the charter ordinance, then the charter ordinance becomes the law.

  4. If a petition IS received within 60 days of the last publication of the charter ordinance, then within 30 days an election is called to be held within 90 days after filing the petition.
Way 2: Cities can use charter ordinances to limit the library mill levy.

  • K.S.A. 12-1220 gives city governments to "establish such library and is hereby authorized to and shall annually levy a tax for the maintenance of such library in such sum as the library board shall determine within the limitations fixed by law...."

  • Several Kansas Attorney Generals have written opinions, e.g., A.G.O. 82-193, 99-27, and 1964 (3), interpreting to mean library boards determine amount need to run the library and, thereby, the amount of the annual tax levy for the library.

  • However, local governments can use home rule charter ordinance to set upper limits on local tax levies for the library.