How Longmont’s Municipal Code is Managed

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Longmont’s Municipal Code is the list of rules that govern how the city and the citizenry of Longmont work. The code is the sum of the ordinances passed by the city council, according to City Clerk Dawn Quintana. “An ordinance is the mechanism used to implement new local laws,” she explained.

The code is where the rubber meets the road. People might be familiar with individual laws. At the federal level those might be the PATRIOT Act or the Affordable Care Act, but the actionable version of those laws actually exist in the U.S. code. In Longmont, the analogous document is our municipal code.

Longmont’s Municipal Code is managed by the City Clerk’s Office, which is responsible for managing the integration of new ordinances into the code. Quintana recently became the city clerk but has served as Deputy Clerk since 2009 and has been a Certified Municipal Clerk since 2014.

The Certified Municipal Clerk training took Quintana three years and has provided her with a network across the state. “I stay connected with many of the clerks from that group and we are always helping each other and serve as resources for one another.”

“The code is published in print form and on the web.” Quintana’s office maintains a paper copy which is updated twice a year, whereas Municode, a private company based out of Florida, manages the web version. “They are both equally authoritative but the online version incorporates updates monthly so it is more current than a print version,” states Quintana.

Changes to the code are instigated by ordinances passed by city council, Quintana explained. “At the first reading, the ordinance is introduced and, if council desires, questions for information may be addressed to the staff. Council then votes whether or not to order the ordinance published in full, along with a notice of the public hearing, which is held at second reading of the ordinance.”

“On second reading, the council may again address questions to the staff and may vote to amend the ordinance. A public hearing is then held and council votes whether or not to adopt the ordinance. All ordinances adopted on final reading take effect ten days after final publication [in a newspaper], except for those containing an ’emergency’ clause.”

Publication in a newspaper takes an unusual form for 2019. “A story about an ordinance would not suffice,” explained Quintana. “Ordinances are published in full – meaning the full text – in the Legal Notices section of the newspaper after first reading.”

City of Longmont Legal Notices “Section” in the Times-Call. (Photo by Shakeel Dalal/Longmont Observer)

According to Longmont Observer publisher Scott Converse, the Longmont Observer doesn’t meet the city’s definition of a paper of record. After looking into the topic, he discovered that a paper of record has to be physically printed and distributed within the city.

After the 10 day notice period, the ordinance and changes to the code come into effect.

“The most current version of the code that is easily accessible would be the online version. It is easy to see how current the online code is at any given moment. In the web version of the municipal code, there is an archive so that anyone can click on each individual code supplement and the supplement history table to see what was changed with each supplement to the code,” says Quintana.

If a question of legality came into question during the 10 day notice period, the best place to go is the Clerk’s Office. “If someone wanted to know what ordinances had passed since a particular update, they could contact city staff or look through council agendas to see what has been on second reading since the last update of code.”

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