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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.


Bernalillo County Charter- FAQs

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Q. What is the Bernalillo County Charter?
A. The charter is a written document that serves as the legal foundation for Bernalillo County government. It’s like a constitution for Bernalillo County – basic rules and guidelines that spell out the powers and duties of elected offices and the organizational structure of the county government.

Q. How did this happen?
A. Bernalillo County voters approved the charter in the fall 2016 general election. This was possible thanks to a 2014 amendment to the New Mexico Constitution, which allowed certain urban counties to create new charters for self-governance.

Q. What’s the big picture?
A. The charter generally gives the county more flexibility and independence to make local government more responsive to community needs. County officials are currently researching possible changes in many areas.

Q. How is this relevant to recent changes in county government?
A. The charter incorporates the county’s ethics and transparency efforts, which cannot be changed without voter approval. The charter also specifies an investment oversight committee to help keep an eye on millions in taxpayer investments.


Q. How can the charter help the county be more flexible and independent?
A. The charter provides flexibility to expand the size of the commission if necessary as population changes in future years. This would be subject to voter approval.

  • The charter gives the county the ability to create its own purchasing rules, subject to state and federal law, county Code of Conduct and other ethical safeguards. This allows the county to further expedite the procurement process.
  • The charter allows more flexibility for entering into public/private partnerships, such as real estate transactions that would help consolidate the county’s many aging office buildings.
  • The charter also allows the county to enforce zoning and building codes more quickly and efficiently, rather than going through state district court at every step. This allows the county to take care of problem and nuisance properties more quickly.
  • And to provide increased accountability, the new charter requires all agenda items included for consideration by the Board of County Commissioners have a sponsor listed in the meeting’s public documents.
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