Vermillion voters approved a measure to adopt a new home rule charter for the city government on Nov. 3. The charter passed with 60% of the vote and provides the city with greater discretion in its policy-making. The charter is intended to establish a more representative and effective city government in Vermillion.
A home rule charter allows a city government to engage in all activities not prohibited by the South Dakota state constitution or by the United States constitution. Primarily, the charter allows the city to issue bids to private contractors more quickly, which saves taxpayer money.
The new charter does not change Vermillion’s “council manager” form of government, where all powers are vested in an elected council, which enacts local legislation, adopts budgets, determines policies and employs a city manager, who executes laws and administers the government. The city council is made up of a mayor, elected at-large, and eight members, two representing each of the four wards of the city.
The charter provides for the adoption of emergency ordinances and resolutions to meet a public emergency that affects life, safety, health, property, or the public peace, but may not be used to levy taxes, grant, renew, or extend a franchise, or to borrow money. An emergency ordinance or resolution is effective immediately upon publication, instead of after 20 days, which is the period for a normal ordinance or resolution.
One issue the home rule charter will allow the city government to address will be the need to regulate the incoming marijuana industry as soon as the results of Amendment A are made official. This will include the location of dispensaries and allowed hours of operation, similar to local regulations on alcohol.
The new home rule charter will be made official as soon as the official canvas certifying the votes is completed.