Laws governing local ballot measures in Vermont

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Laws Governing Local Ballot Measures

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A guide to local ballot initiatives
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Some Vermont local governments have an initiative process for local ballot measures. This article sets out the laws governing local ballot measures in Vermont. It explains:
  • Which local units of government make the initiative process available to residents.
  • How and whether local units of government, including school districts, can refer local ballot measures (such as school bond propositions) to the ballot.

Types of local government

Local government in Vermont consists of:

  • Counties. Vermont is divided up into counties, which are not allowed a Charter by state law but are run according to General law.
  • Towns. Towns are local governments under Counties. Some Towns are allowed Charters but most are governed according to general law.
  • Villages. Villages are local governments under towns. They provide some services such as sewer, water, police and fire.
  • Cities. Cities are local units of government that are independent of towns. Currently all cities in Vermont are charter cities.[1]

In Vermont, there are 14 counties, 9 cities, 237 towns and 36 villages. All nine cities are chartered, as well as 34 towns and 25 villages.[2]

  • In addition, there are 143 special districts and 291 independent school districts.[3]

School districts

See also: School bond and tax elections in Vermont

There are no school bond and tax elections in Vermont. Vermont is one of nine states along with the District of Columbia to not have school bond or tax elections. All bond issues and requests to raise tax levies are the authority of the Vermont Educational and Health Buildings Agency. It is up to the agency to freely set the terms of all bond issues including interest, selling terms, maturity, and restrictions on successive bond issues. There is a remedy clause if any party defaults on bond obligations, but the State of Vermont is immune from being held liable in the case of default via litigation.

Initiative process availability

  • State laws do not mention Initiative petitions for ordinances.
  • The voters of all municipalities have the right to petition a referendum in order to repeal any enacted or amended ordinance.
  • The voters of all municipalities have the right to petition the adoption of a charter. The voters of all chartered municipalities have the right to petition for the amendment of their charter.
  • Citizens in chartered cities, villages, and towns may be granted an Initiative process for ordinances in the individual municipal charter.[2]

Authority

Ballot Law Portal
Laws Governing Ballot Measures

Constitution

Mention of the powers of Initiative or Referendum were not found in the Vermont Constitution.

Statutes

Authority and procedure for the amendment of an municipal charter initiated either by legislature or by petition from the voters is provided by Title 17, Ch. 55, section 2645:


Authority and procedure for Referendum powers in any municipality are provided by Title 24, Ch. 59, Section 1973:


The same referendum process is authorized after a subsequent amendment or repeal of an enacted ordinance by Title 24, Ch. 59, section 1976:


Initiative process features

A statewide process for local Initiative for ordinances could not be found. State law does authorize an initiative process for amendments to municipal charters.


Initiative process in the top 10 most populated cities and villages

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Source:Local Ballot Initiatives: How citizens change laws with
clipboards, conversations, and campaigns
List of Most Populated Cities in Vermont
City[8] Population City Type Next election
Burlington 42,645 Charter N/A
South Burlington 18,017 Charter N/A
Rutland 16,399 Charter N/A
Essex Junction 9,331 (village)Charter N/A
Barre 9,066 Charter N/A
Montpelier 7,868 Charter N/A
Winooski 7,312 Charter N/A
St. Albans 6,971 Charter N/A
Newport 4,579 Charter N/A
Bellows Falls 3,131 (village)Charter N/A

Some cities, villages, and towns authorize initiative for ordinances in their respective municipal charters. Out of the top ten most populous cities and villages in Vermont, individual provisions for initiative of ordinances were only found in South Burlington, Essex Junction, and Winooski.



External links

References