Public invited to review, comment on proposed new County Charter

By Staff Reports

(Victor Valley)– The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors will consider placing a new County Charter on the November ballot at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, July 14, in the Covington Chambers at the County Government Center in San Bernardino.

If approved by voters, the proposed charter would replace the current charter, which was adopted 107 years ago in 1913.

In July 2019, the Board of Supervisors appointed Chairman Curt Hagman and Second District Supervisor Janice Rutherford to a subcommittee to begin working with County staff on a charter reform package.

“Our goal was to develop a set of reforms that would modernize our charter by removing outdated language and incorporating proven good governance practices,” Chairman Curt Hagman said.

If approved by voters, the remodeled charter would:

  • Allow the Board of Supervisors to call for special elections to fill vacancies in County elected offices and to remove the Governor’s authority to make appointments to fill vacant Supervisor offices
  • Require the Board of Supervisors to create a redistricting commission to be involved in the redrawing of the boundaries of supervisorial districts every 10 years
  • Protect campaign finance rules and enforcement of those rules
  • Limit County supervisors to a total of three four-year terms
  • Limit and fix supervisor salaries to 80% of the salary of Superior Court Judges and require public hearings for any effort to change supervisor salaries and benefits
  • Require the Board of Supervisors to publicly review County Health Officer orders
  • Require the Board to periodically and publicly review the County Code and the Charter for outdated or unnecessary provisions
  • Replace gender-specific references to reflect the gender diversity on the Board of Supervisors.
  • Require the Board of Supervisors to adopt rules of order for its meetings

“These reforms — if approved by voters — will bring San Bernardino County’s governance into the 21st century by locking in good governance policies, closing the term limit loophole, allowing special elections to fill vacancies, and creating a redistricting commission,” Second District Supervisor Janice Rutherford said.

The proposed Charter can be viewed here and a PowerPoint presentation that will be used during the July 14 Board meeting can be found here.

The 1913 County Charter

Please submit comments to BoardMeetingComments@cob.sbcounty.gov or online here. The Board will accept in-person comments during the meeting as well. However, seating in the chambers is limited due to COVID-19 restrictions.

There are 14 Charter counties in California. The State’s remaining 44 counties are, by default, General Law counties and are bound to adhere to State laws regarding the number and duties of county elected officials.

Charter counties have a limited degree of “home rule” authority that may provide for the election, compensation, terms, removal, and salary of the governing board as well as the election or appointment (except sheriff, district attorney, and assessor who must be elected), compensation, terms, and removal of all county officers

However, a charter does not give county officials additional authority over local regulations, revenue-raising abilities, budgetary decisions, or intergovernmental relations.

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