Municipal Corporations

1. Incorporation and organization; classification

Section 1. Municipal corporations shall not be created by special laws, but the legislature, by general laws, shall provide for the incorporation and organization of cities and towns and for the classification of such cities and towns in proportion to population, subject to the provisions of this article.

 2. Charter; preparation and proposal by board of freeholders; ratification and approval; amendment

Section 2. Any city containing, now or hereafter, a population of more than three thousand five hundred may frame a charter for its own government consistent with, and subject to, the Constitution and the laws of the state, in the following manner: A board of freeholders composed of fourteen qualified electors of said city may be elected at large by the qualified electors thereof, at a general or special election, whose duty it shall be, within ninety days after such election, to prepare and propose a charter for such city. Such proposed charter shall be signed in duplicate by the members of such board, or a majority of them, and filed, one copy of said proposed charter with the chief executive officer of such city and the other with the county recorder of the county in which said city shall be situated. Such proposed charter shall then be published in one or more newspapers published, and of general circulation, within said city for at least twenty-one days if in a daily paper, or in three consecutive issues if in a weekly paper, and the first publication shall be made within twenty days after the completion of the proposed charter. Within thirty days, and not earlier than twenty days, after such publication, said proposed charter shall be submitted to the vote of the qualified electors of said city at a general or special election. If a majority of such qualified electors voting thereon shall ratify such proposed charter, it shall thereupon be submitted to the governor for his approval, and the governor shall approve it if it shall not be in conflict with this Constitution or with the laws of the state. Upon such approval said charter shall become the organic law of such city and supersede any charter then existing (and all amendments thereto), and all ordinances inconsistent with said new charter. A copy of such charter, certified by the chief executive officer, and authenticated by the seal, of such city, together with a statement similarly certified and authenticated setting forth the submission of such charter to the electors and its ratification by them, shall, after the approval of such charter by the governor, be made in duplicate and filed, one copy in the office of the secretary of state and the other in the archives of the city after being recorded in the office of said county recorder. Thereafter all courts shall take judicial notice of said charter.

The charter so ratified may be amended by amendments proposed and submitted by the legislative authority of the city to the qualified electors thereof (or by petition as hereinafter provided), at a general or special election, and ratified by a majority of the qualified electors voting thereon and approved by the governor as herein provided for the approval of the charter.

 3. Election of board of freeholders

Section 3. An election of such board of freeholders may be called at any time by the legislative authority of any such city. Such election shall be called by the chief executive officer of any such city within ten days after there shall have been filed with him a petition demanding such election, signed by a number of qualified electors residing within such city equal to twenty-five per centum of the total number of votes cast at the next preceding general municipal election. Such election shall be held not later than thirty days after the call therefor. At such election a vote shall be taken upon the question whether further proceedings toward adopting a charter shall be had in pursuance to the call, and unless a majority of the qualified electors voting thereon shall vote to proceed further, no further proceedings shall be had, and all proceedings up to the time of said election shall be of no effect.

 4. Franchises; approval of electors; term

Section 4. No municipal corporation shall ever grant, extend, or renew a franchise without the approval of a majority of the qualified electors residing within its corporate limits who shall vote thereon at a general or special election, and the legislative body of any such corporation shall submit any such matter for approval or disapproval to such electors at any general municipal election, or call a special election for such purpose at any time upon thirty days' notice. No franchise shall be granted, extended, or renewed for a longer time than twenty-five years.

 5. Right of municipal corporation to engage in business or enterprise

Section 5. Every municipal corporation within this state shall have the right to engage in any business or enterprise which may be engaged in by a person, firm, or corporation by virtue of a franchise from said municipal corporation.

 6. Franchises; restrictions

Section 6. No grant, extension, or renewal of any franchise or other use of the streets, alleys, or other public grounds, or ways, of any municipality shall divest the state or any of its subdivisions of its or their control and regulation of such use and enjoyment; nor shall the power to regulate charges for public services be surrendered; and no exclusive franchise shall ever be granted.

 7. Irrigation and other districts as political subdivisions

Section 7. Irrigation, power, electrical, agricultural improvement, drainage, and flood control districts, and tax levying public improvement districts, now or hereafter organized pursuant to law, shall be political subdivisions of the state, and vested with all the rights, privileges and benefits, and entitled to the immunities and exemptions granted municipalities and political subdivisions under this constitution or any law of the state or of the United States; but all such districts shall be exempt from the provisions of sections 7 and 8 of article IX of this constitution.