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The new Bernalillo County Charter took effect Jan. 1, 2017. The Home Rule Urban County Charter is like a constitution for the county – basic rules for how our local government is organized.

The charter was approved by 55 percent of voters in the fall 2016 general election. County boundaries, ordinances and elected officials stay the same. However, the new charter gives local government much more flexibility and independence to be more responsive to community needs.

Notably, the charter strengthens the county’s ethics, transparency, accountability and financial oversight efforts of the past several years.

Please click here to see the entire charter document. 

At a meeting on Dec. 8, 2015 of the Board of County Commissioners, direction was provided to county staff to develop a resolution that would help guide the newly created Urban County Charter Commission in the creation of an Urban County Charter to bring to voters on Nov. 8, 2016. Voters approved the charter in that November election. AR 2015-81 identifies three goals and charter document topics to assist the Urban County Charter Commission in accomplishing its task. 

The three goals include:

1.a  Develop a charter document that provides the county organization with the ability to adopt operational efficiencies to more quickly and effectively address constituent needs and provide services;

1.b  Engage county departments to understand the specific needs that a “home rule” designation will positively address; and

1.c  Ensure that the charter preserves the State of New Mexico Statutes that govern the duties and responsibilities of each elected official and/or body to include: The Board of County Commissioners; and the County Sheriff, Assessor, Clerk, Treasurer and Probate Judge elected offices and officers.

The Urban County Charter Commission is composed of seven members. Each County Commissioner shall nominate a member for consideration and appointment by the Board. Two more members shall be at-large members and shall be appointed by the Board. The seven appointed members of the UCCC shall all be appointed by Jan. 31, 2016. Vacancies shall be filled in the same manner as the original members.  

Please take a look at the resources below to learn more about the new Bernalillo County charter.


Charter Update Since Jan. 2017 Implementation

4:04 PM

Planning & Development Services - The County Planning Commission has been given authority to make final decisions regarding special use permits, site plan amendments and other non-ordinance requests. This change is resulting in a more streamlined review process for the staff, and applicants that will save valuable time and resources for county staff.


Procurement - This new ordinance incorporates best practices from multiple procurement sources, including but not limited to, the State of New Mexico Procurement Code. This ordinance focuses on enhanced operation efficiencies while protecting transparency and accountability. Bernalillo County has instituted its own procurement incentives to include recognition of minority and women owned businesses and a veteran exemption.


Economic Development – The Urban Charter allows the Economic Development Department to apply new & expanded “tools” to fund infrastructure for economic development projects. The Gross Receipt Investment Policy and amendment to the Bernalillo County LEDA Ordinance allows projects to use and increment of the County’s gross receipts tax to fund infrastructure. Through the Urban Charter, the County may contribute an increment of the County’s portion of gross receipt taxes from the construction from large-scale retail development such as; destination retail, sports complexes & destination entertainment.


Public Works - There are many locations in the County where roads haven’t been developed within existing rights-of-way. This lack of an adequate roadway has led to the inability for development of existing residential lots, in part due to the cost of constructing a compliant road needed to access the property. The county is creating a pro rata process allowing a lot owner to construct the needed road improvements as an upfront cost, reimbursed by other lot owners following development after the initial road construction. Current state law doesn’t have a mechanism for counties to enact pro rata legislation. Because pro rata isn’t a prohibited activity under state law, the County’s urban charter status allows for the development of an ordinance that would create this pro rata process.

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