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City Charter

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There are two categories of cities in Texas: home rule and general law.

Stephenville became a home rule city in 1961 when it adopted its first charter.  While general law cities are told by the state what they must do, home rule cities are told what they cannot do.  This allows for a more personalized level of governance at the local level.

Brief History of the Incorporation of Stephenville and the Adoption of Its First Charter

In 1856, John M. Stephen agreed to donate land for the courthouse, churches, and settlers in exchange for the town being named Stephenville. The State of Texas accepted this agreement and Erath County was organized.

The City of Stephenville was incorporated in 1889.  In 1909, an amendment (Texas Municipal Incorporation Amendment) was added to the Texas Constitution to officially incorporate and set guidelines for incorporation.

Prior to the Home Rule Amendment in 1912, most cities, including Stephenville, operated under the laws of the State of Texas (what we would consider “general law” cities today), while others were added by legislative action.  The Home Rule Amendment of 1912 allowed Texas cities to adopt and operate under a city charter.  Stephenville adopted its first charter in 1961, which is on file with the Texas Secretary of State.

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