Home Rule and Municipal Charter Facts


(Second article in the Q&A Charter Series)

  • In 1969 Maine Citizens adopted an amendment to the Maine Constitution that provided municipal “home rule”.
  • Home rule is very important for municipalities because it affords the citizens of a municipality the opportunity to adopt a municipal charter rather than depend upon the state legislature for their governing authority.
  • Under home rule it is the right of a town or city to enact laws that are municipal in nature and do not run counter to state law.
  • Home rule is a counter movement to government centralization where the state or federal government defines what municipal government can do.
  • 82% of the Maine municipalities (51) with more than 5,000 population have municipal charters.
  • 18% of the Maine municipalities (11) with more than 5,000 population do not have municipal charters.  New Gloucester has a population of 5,679 and does not have a municipal charter.
Maine Cities by Population Rank City Population Charter Municipalities
1 Portland 66,715 Yes
2 Lewiston 36,211 Yes
3 Bangor 32,237 Yes
4 South Portland 25,431 Yes
5 Auburn 22,941 Yes
6 Biddeford 21,413 Yes
7 Sanford 20,920 Yes
8 Brunswick 20,523 Yes
9 Scarborough 19,620 Yes
10 Saco 19,127 Yes
11 Augusta 18,626 Yes
12 Westbrook 18,156 Yes
13 Windham 17,732 Yes
14 Gorham 17,147 Yes
15 Waterville 16,374 Yes
16 York 12,872 Yes
17 Falmouth 11,868 Yes
18 Kennebunk 11,223 Yes
19 Orono 10,914 Yes
20 Standish 10,091 Yes
21 Wells 10,048 no
22 Kittery 9,649 Yes
23 Presque Isle 9,246 Yes
24 Cape Elizabeth 9,235 Yes
25 Brewer 9,167 Yes
26 Lisbon 8,872 Yes
27 Old Orchard Beach 8,745 Yes
28 Topsham 8,737 no
29 Yarmouth 8,494 Yes
30 Skowhegan 8,344 no
31 Bath 8,314 Yes
32 Freeport 8,296 Yes
33 Buxton 8,158 Yes
34 Gray 8,014 Yes
35 Ellsworth 7,916 Yes
36 Caribou 7,827 Yes
37 Waterboro 7,747 Yes
38 Cumberland 7,695 Yes
39 Farmington 7,623 Yes
40 Winslow 7,608 Yes
41 Old Town 7,594 Yes
42 Berwick 7,538 no
43 South Berwick 7,363 Yes
44 Hampden 7,314 no
45 Rockland 7,204 no
46 Belfast 6,680 Yes
47 Fairfield 6,612 Yes
48 Eliot 6,380 no
49 Oakland 6,218 Yes
50 Lebanon 6,168 no
51 Winthrop 6,006 Yes
52 Houlton 5,911 Yes
53 Hermon 5,789 Yes
54 Turner 5,747 no
55 Rumford 5,730 Yes
56 New Gloucester 5,679 no
57 Gardiner 5,672 Yes
58 Poland 5,522 Yes
59 Bar Harbor 5,356 Yes
60 Bridgton 5,346 no
61 Paris 5,148 no
62 Sabbatus 5,009 Yes

According to a 2016 textbook publication of the Maine Municipal Association, “Home rule has rekindled civic pride, citizen interest and participation in local affairs.”

Written by:  John Salisbury, New Gloucester resident and former executive director of the Maine Municipal Association. Edited by NGX

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