Clearfield-Lawrence Consolidation Committee Continues Review of Draft Charter

CLEARFIELD – The Clearfield Borough-Lawrence Township consolidation committee continued reviewing the draft charter for the proposed new municipality during last night’s meeting.  The sections concerning the city manager and finance and budget were reviewed.

Last month the committee reviewed the hiring, qualifications and basic duties of the council.  Last night the committee members discussed in more detail the powers and duties.  These include ensuring laws, ordinances, resolutions, etc. are obeyed and supervising the administrative units.

The next section discussed whether the manager can appoint, promote, discipline, suspend and remove all city employees and be bound by union contract.  Leslie Stott, Clearfield Borough manager, noted she does these things while the supervisors of the township are in charge of that.  After some discussion, it was agreed to add wording that actions are subject to review by council.

Other duties include creating a proposed budget, presenting a “state of the city” report sometime after the close of the fiscal year, prepare agendas for meeting with the council president, provide financial updates to council at meetings and represent council in negotiations, inter-governmental relationships, in matters of economic development and so on.

Also the manager will maintain records and documents and prepare the administrative code and perform other duties.

There is also a provision for an acting city manager who can be designated by the city manager in the event the manager is suspended, temporarily absent, incapacitated or otherwise unable to serve.

The choice of acting city manager should be presented to council in letter form each year.  However, council can choose a city manager by resolution if the chosen person cannot serve or if council would rather appoint someone else.

Under budget and finance, the council first heard from Stott and township Secretary Barbara Shaffner on how they each prepare their municipality’s budget and also how they are adopted.  The committee then reviewed that portion of the charter.

The fiscal year of the city is set as the calendar year, which is what the borough and township currently follow.  The budget is to be presented by the manager no later than 45 days prior to the end of the fiscal year and provide a financial plan for the city and will be available for public inspection at the municipal building.  The budget will be adopted by ordinance.

A capital budget was also discussed and how the two municipalities currently plan for capital expenses.

The manager will have a notice published in the newspaper for a summary of the budget and where the budget can be viewed.  The budget will them be adopted before the end of the fiscal year and become effective on the first of the next year.  If any amendments to the budget change the revenues or expenses or the total by more than 10 percent, the budget ordinance will be republished.

If council doesn’t pass an operating budget by Dec. 31, the current budget will then remain adopted.

The budget can be reopened at any time within the first 30 days to fix errors or omissions, and in a year following a municipal election the council may revise the budget before Feb. 15 via ordinance.  The committee also reviewed sections on how appropriations are handled, including emergency appropriations, the levying and collecting of taxes and also independent audits.

At the end of the meeting, the committee opened the floor for comments from the public.  Lawrence Township Supervisor Randy Powell noted the committee will need to figure out how funding will be presented to the fire companies.

Currently, the fire halls are all owned by the fire companies.  In the borough, the utilities are paid by the borough.  However, in the township, donations are made to the fire companies with the intent the money be used for expenses.

A resident of the township asked how the fire companies will be operated and will the new municipality own the companies.  Committee members explained that the fire companies are 501(c)3 entities separate from the municipalities.  During earlier discussions with the committee, the fire companies emphasized they want to be independent.

The referendum on whether to consolidate the two municipalities will be held during the 2017 primary election next May.

Upcoming meetings include presentations to the borough and township governing bodies and public.  The borough meeting will be held June 16 with a start time to be determined.  The township meeting will be held June 22 at 11 a.m.  The next committee meeting will be June 28 at 6 p.m.

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