36. Provisions for adoption of new or revised city charter proposed by a charter commission. 1. A local law providing a new or revised city charter also may be adopted in any city pursuant to the provisions of this section.
2. The legislative body may adopt a local law providing for (a) the establishment of a commission to draft a new or revised city charter, or (b) the submission to the electors of such city at a general or special election of the question: "Shall there be a commission to draft a new or revised city charter as proposed by local law number . . . . . . for the year . . . . . ?" Such question may also specify the composition of such commission as provided in such local law. Such election shall be held not less than sixty days after the adoption of such local law. Such local law shall fix or provide the method of determining the number of members of such commission and determine whether the members shall be elected or appointed, or partly elected and partly appointed. It shall also prescribe the manner of appointment of appointive members, the manner of election of elective members and whether elective members shall be elected by the city at large or by districts described in such local law. In a case where a question is so submitted, the elective members of the commission, if any, shall be elected at the election at which the question is submitted. If the question be answered in the affirmative by a majority vote of the qualified electors of such city voting thereon, the members of the charter commission, appointed or elected thereto, shall be a charter commission of such city, except that if at the same election more than one proposal for establishing a charter commission receives such approval only the proposal receiving the largest number of affirmative votes shall be deemed adopted.
3. A local law for the creation of a commission to draft a new or revised city charter also may be adopted in the following manner: Qualified electors of a city, registered to vote therein at the last preceding general election, in number equal to at least fifteen per centum of the total number of votes cast for governor at the last gubernatorial election in such city, or forty-five thousand, whichever is less, may file in the office of the city clerk a petition for the submission to the electors of such city of a proposed local law for the creation of a commission to draft a new or revised city charter for such city and if such petition is found to meet all the requirements of law, the legislative body of the city shall submit such local law to the electors of such city at the next general election therein held not less than sixty days after the filing of such petition. Such proposed local law shall fix or provide the method of determining the number of members of such commission and shall provide for its composition. It may name all or any of such members and may provide for the election or appointment of all or any of them. It shall prescribe the manner of appointment of appointive members and the time and manner of election of elective members. It shall also determine whether elective members shall be elected from the city at large or by districts described in such local law. Such petition shall conform to the provisions of section twenty-four in relation to petitions. It shall be examined and reported on by the city clerk as prescribed in such section, and objections thereto shall be disposed of by the supreme court as prescribed by such section. The city clerk shall transmit such proposed local law in the form in which it is to be submitted, which shall include the proposed composition of such commission, to the election officers charged with the duty of publishing the notice of such election. If two or more such petitions are filed providing for the submission of different proposed local laws, the city clerk shall designate each such proposed local law numerically in the order of the time of the filing of the petitions. If such a proposed local law receives the affirmative vote of a majority of the qualified electors of such city voting thereon, the members of the charter commission named in such local law, or elected or appointed as prescribed therein, shall be the charter commission of such city, except that if at the same election more than one local law for establishing a charter commission receives the affirmative vote of a majority of the qualified electors of such city voting thereon, only the one receiving the largest number of affirmative votes shall be deemed adopted and the members of the charter commission named in such local law or elected or appointed as prescribed therein, shall be the charter commission of such city.
4. A charter commission to draft a new or revised city charter may also be created by the mayor of any city. Such commission shall consist of not less than nine nor more than fifteen members, all of whom shall be residents of the city. Original appointments to such a commission shall be made by the mayor by a certificate of appointment which shall specify the number of, and names of, the members to constitute the commission, which certificate shall be filed forthwith with the city clerk. The chairman, vice-chairman and secretary shall be appointed by the mayor from among the members of the commission. Any vacancy in the membership of such a commission or of its officers shall be filled by the mayor.
5. (a) The charter commission of a city created pursuant to this section shall review the entire charter of such city and prepare a draft of a proposed new or revised charter of such city. If the commission shall decide to leave a part of the existing charter unchanged, it may propose in one or more amendments a revision of the remaining parts. In such case it shall make a report to the public, accompanying its proposals, in which it shall refer specifically to such unchanged part and explain its decision to leave such part unchanged. The proposed charter or such amendments may contain such provisions or effect such results as may be made or effected by local law under the provisions of this chapter, and, subject to the provisions of paragraph (c) of subdivision four of section ten of this chapter, may contain any provisions of the existing charter of such city deemed necessary to make a complete charter of such city or appropriate amendments to the existing charter, with such changes in the headings and in the numbering of the titles, articles, chapters, sections and subdivisions wherein such provisions are found in the existing charter as may be deemed appropriate to correlate and coordinate them with the other provisions in the proposed new or revised charter and with such changes in the text of such provisions as may be deemed desirable to clarify the meaning of such provisions, and to vest in any of the officers of the city provided for in the proposed new or revised charter any power or authority contained in such provisions.
(b) Such new charter or amendments shall be completed and filed in the office of the city clerk in time for submission to the electors not later than the second general election after the charter commission is created and organized. The local law or certificate establishing the commission or, in the absence of such provision therein, the charter commission shall provide for such publication or other publicity in respect to the provisions of the proposed charter or amendments as it may deem proper, and for submission thereof to the electors of the city at a general or special election held not earlier than sixty days after the filing thereof in the office of the city clerk and not later than the next general election which does not occur within the said sixty days, provided, however, that if such general election occurs within ninety days after the said filing, the proposed charter or amendments shall be submitted at such general election. At such election, if a proposed new charter is submitted as a single proposal, there shall be submitted to the qualified electors of the city the question: "Shall the new city charter proposed by the city charter commission be adopted ?" The charter commission may, however, require that its proposed charter be submitted in two or more parts so arranged that corresponding parts of the existing charter shall remain in effect if one or more of such parts are not adopted, or may in lieu of a new charter submit a revision of the existing charter in one or more amendments and may also submit alternative charters or amendments or alternative provisions to supersede designated portions of a proposed charter or amendment if adopted. In such case the charter commission shall prescribe the form of the questions to be submitted, which shall be such as clearly to indicate the effect of their approval.
(c) No provision for the election of any elective officers by any system of proportional representation shall become effective under the provisions of this section unless a definite question with respect to the adoption of such system for the election of such officers shall have been submitted as a separate question and separately approved at the same election by the affirmative vote of a majority of the qualified electors voting thereon.
(d) If any question submitted by the charter commission receives the affirmative vote of a majority of the qualified electors of the city voting thereon, the proposal submitted thereby shall take effect as specified therein and the new charter or the amendment or amendments to the existing charter as so proposed shall become operative as prescribed therein; except that if there be a conflict between the provisions of two or more proposals approved by the electors at the same election, the proposal receiving the largest number of affirmative votes shall prevail to the extent of such conflict.
(e) At any election at which any question or questions shall be submitted to the qualified electors of the city by a charter commission pursuant to this section or within sixty days thereafter, no other question or questions shall be submitted to or voted upon by such electors pursuant to any local law, ordinance, resolution or petition if such commission was created pursuant to subdivision four of this section, and no such other question or questions shall be submitted except by another charter commission if such commission was created otherwise, if such other question or questions involve or relate directly or indirectly to the adoption of a new city charter, the amendment of a city charter, charter revision, the establishment of a commission to draft a new or revised city charter, or the functions, powers or duties of any elective officer of the city, except as provided in paragraph (g) of this subdivision.
(f) While a charter commission is in existence under the provisions of this section, the local legislative body shall not submit to the electors any of the questions specified in subdivision (e) except at a general election.
(g) If a proposed local law submitted pursuant to section thirty-seven of this chapter would under the provisions of such section be submitted at a general election at which a question or questions submitted by a charter commission are to be voted on, such local law shall not be submitted at such election but shall be submitted at the general election in the year following regardless of other questions which may be voted on at the latter election and notwithstanding any inconsistent provision of this title.
6. Any charter commission created under this section shall also be subject to the following provisions:
(a) Members of the commission shall receive no compensation for their services, but shall be reimbursed for the actual and necessary expenses incurred by them in the performance of their duties.
(b) The commission shall appoint and may at pleasure remove such employees and consultants as it shall require and fix their compensation and may accept any services, facilities or funds and use or expend the same for its purposes. On request of the commission, the mayor or, in a city having a city manager, the city manager may direct any board, body, officer or employee of the city to cooperate with, assist, advise, provide facilities, materials or data and render services to the commission.
(c) In addition to action under any other power to make appropriations for the support of a charter commission, the appropriate officials of the city shall have power, on request of the commission, to appropriate to such commission such sum or sums as shall be necessary to defray its expenses and, in the event the appropriating body or bodies do not take affirmative action to provide such sum or sums within forty-five days of the commission's request, the mayor of the city shall have power to authorize, by certificate filed with the fiscal officer or officers of the city, the commission to incur liabilities and expenses as specified by him, but within the sum or sums so requested, which shall be a charge against the city and which shall be audited and paid by the appropriate officials of the city.
(d) No person shall be disqualified to serve as a member, employee or consultant of the commission by reason of holding any other public office or employment, nor shall he forfeit any such office or employment by reason of his appointment hereunder, notwithstanding the provisions of any general, special or local law, ordinance or city charter.
(e) The terms of office of the members of the commission shall expire on the day of the election at which the proposed new charter or charter amendments prepared by the commission are submitted to the qualified electors of the city, or on the day of the second general election following the organization of the commission if no such questions have been submitted by that time.
(f) The commission shall conduct public hearings. It shall conduct such public hearings at such times and at such places within the city as it shall deem necessary. The commission shall also have power to conduct private hearings, take testimony, subpoena witnesses and require the production of books, papers and records.
(g) The provisions of the election law or any other law relating to the submission of questions at general elections, so far as the same are applicable and not inconsistent herewith, shall apply to a question submitted pursuant to the provisions of this section.
Last modified: February 3, 2019