MAHANOY CITY, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — There may be a new way a Schuylkill County borough will run its local government.
It’s called home rule and many in Mahanoy City believe it’s a way to get the state to back off running the show and put the city on a fast track toward a bright future.
Seven signatures have potentially changed the future for Mahanoy City as members of the Home Rule Government Study Commission Wednesday night approved the final version of the Home Rule Charter.
“Without the home rule, we could lose close to half a million dollars worth of finances,” Francis Burke of the Home Rule Government Study Commission said.
Since 2016, Mahanoy City has operated under the state’s 47 program, designed for communities that are severely financially distressed, but the state mandated code expires next year.
“They’ve dug themselves out to the point where now they can take the next step,” solicitor Eric Lieberman said.
The commission believes a home rule charter will give them the power it needs to run their own government independent of the state.
“Instead of the state saying ‘this is the way you’re going to run your municipality’ they get to really, through this commission that was formed, this government study commission took a look at that and they got to create the form of government that’s the right size to Mahanoy City,” Matthew Domines of the Pennsylvania Economy League said.
The plan under their home rule chapter will reduce the borough council size from seven members to five and eliminate the position of mayor. It will also allow the borough to continue to charge a two percent earned income tax to stabilize the budget.
“Without home rule, services will severely cut back,” Burke said.
Residents will have the opportunity to vote for or against the home rule. Members say that if the community is not on board, public services, including efforts to fight blight and the police force, will suffer.
“Mahanoy City needs certain services, whether it’s the police force or the fire department and things like that. Governmental services that they provide and to lose some of those things would be really hard for a struggling community,” Lieberman said.
The commission also plans to put another committee together to educate the public on why they say the home rule charter is best.
The primary elections are on April 28th and that is when people can for vote for or against the home rule charter.