10.01 General Power.
The people of Bellingham, in addition to the method of legislation, otherwise herein provided, shall have power to direct legislation by initiative and referendum.
10.02 Initiative-Petition Method.
The first power reserved by the people is the initiative. The registered electors of the City may propose any ordinance, or amendments to any existing ordinance, relating to matters within the legislative, as distinguished from administrative, powers of the City as a corporate entity. Notwithstanding the above classification, no ordinance shall be initiated relating to the annual budget or capital expense budget, making or repealing any appropriation, fixing the salaries or wages of officers or employees, or authorizing or repealing the levy of taxes.
An initiative may be exercised on petition of a number of qualified voters equal to not less than twenty (20) percent of the total number of votes cast for the office of Mayor at the last preceding municipal general election, proposing the enactment, as an ordinance, of a bill, the full text of which shall be included in the petition.
Every initiative petition shall be filed with the Finance Director, who shall verify the sufficiency of the signatures to the petition, and transmit it, together with his report thereon, to the City Council at a regular meeting not more than twenty (20) days after the filing of the petition, and such transmission shall be the introduction of the initiative bill in the City Council. If the Finance Director shall find any petition to be insufficient in signatures, he shall notify the principal petitioners, and an additional twenty (20) days shall be allowed them in which to obtain the required percentage.
Consideration of initiatives shall take precedence over all other business before the City Council, except appropriation bills and emergency bills necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health or safety.
10.03 Initiative-Provision As To Source Of Revenue.
No initiative bill requiring the expenditure of additional funds for an existing activity, or of any funds for a new activity or purpose, shall be filed or submitted to a vote unless provision be specifically made therein for new or additional sources of revenue for all such additional funds required thereby.
10.04 Initiative-Council Action.
The City Council may enact or reject an initiative bill, but shall not amend or modify the same: Provided; That the City Council may, after rejection of any initiative bill, propose and pass a different one dealing with the same subject.
10.05 Initiative-Submission To Electorate.
If the City Council shall have rejected any initiative bill, or shall, within thirty (30) days after receipt thereof, have failed to take final action thereon, or shall have passed a different bill dealing with the same subject, the said rejected initiative bill and such different bill dealing with the same subject, if any has been passed, shall be submitted by the Finance Director to the qualified electors for approval or rejection at the next municipal general election: Provided; That the City Council may, in its discretion, provide for a special election at which the vote shall be taken.
10.06 Initiative-Passage And Effective Date.
Any bill thus submitted to the vote of the people, which shall receive in its favor a majority of all the votes cast for and against the same, shall become an ordinance of the City of Bellingham, and be in full force and effect, and be published in the City official newspaper within ten (10) days after the official canvass of the ballots pursuant to law.
10.07 Initiative-Conflicting Bills.
In case the City Council shall, after rejection of the initiative bill, have passed an alternative bill dealing with the same subject, the alternative bill shall be submitted at the same election with the initiative bill. The ballot titles of both bills shall be printed on the official ballots so that a voter can express separately by making one cross (X) for each two preferences; first, as between either measure and neither, and secondly, as between one and the other. Only if a majority of all votes cast favor either bill in the first proposition, shall one of the bills so proposed be adopted. The measure adopted shall be the measure receiving the greater number of votes of the alternative measures. (amended November 3, 1981.)
The second power reserved by the people is the simple referendum which may be exercised and ordered as to any ordinance which has passed the City Council and the Mayor, or which has been passed over the Mayor's veto as provided in this Charter, either upon a petition signed by a number of qualified voters equal to not less than eight (8) percent of the total number of votes cast for the office of Mayor at the last preceding municipal general election, or by the City Council itself without petition: Provided: That this section shall not apply to ordinances necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health or safety as provided in this Charter, nor to ordinances relating to the annual budget or the capital expense budget, making or repealing any appropriation, fixing the salaries or wages of officers or employees, authorizing or repealing the levy of taxes, or any repealing ordinances adopted by the Council in compliance with a referendum petition. The fact that the ordinance is already in effect shall not bar the referendum procedure.
10.09 Referendum-Petition Procedure.
The referendum may be invoked by petition bearing the signatures of the required percentage of qualified voters as to any ordinance, or any section, item or part of any such ordinance allowed by the preceding paragraph, which petition shall be filed with the finance Director within thirty (30) days following the effective date of said ordinance, as provided in section 3.04 of this Charter, and the filing of such referendum petition as to any such ordinance, or section, item or part thereof, shall operate to abate the ordinance, or any further action thereon, except as hereinafter provided. The Finance Director shall verify the sufficiency of the signatures to the petition and transmit it, together with his report thereon, to the City Council at a regular meeting not more than twenty (20) days after the filing of the petition.
10.10 Referendum-Submission To Electorate.
The City Council shall thereupon provide for submitting the said ordinance, or section, item or part thereof, to the vote of the qualified electors for ratification or rejection, either at the next municipal general election, or at a special election as the City Council in its discretion may provide.
10.11 Referendum-Approval Or Rejection-Effective Date.
If the ordinance thus submitted to the referendum shall receive in its favor a majority cast for and against the same, it shall be in full force and effect, and be published in the City official newspaper within ten (10) days after the official canvass of the ballots pursuant to law.
If the ordinance shall fail to receive the majority vote in its favor, it shall be considered as rejected and shall be of no force or effect.
10.12 Amendment Or Repeal By City Council.
Every ordinance heretofore or hereafter initiated or referred and approved as provided in the preceding sections, may be amended, revised or repealed by the City Council: Provided; That no such ordinance may be so amended, revised or repealed within two (2) years after the effective date thereof.
12.03 Severability Clause.
The provisions, sections, subdivisions and articles of this Charter, shall be considered to be severable, so that if any provision, section, subdivision or article, or its application to any person or circumstance, is altered, amended, abrogated, repealed, superseded by state law or held invalid, the remainder of the particular provision, section, subdivision, article or Charter, or the application thereof to other persons or circumstances, shall not be deemed affected.
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