Home rule

Reading board member says bylaw charter and mayor’s authority are holding back city growth | Berks Regional News

READING, Pa. — Is Reading’s form of city government still working?

In its Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday, City Council reconsidered a proposal originally put forward in March to consider forming a commission to consider whether the Home Rule Charter form of government is still appropriate or whether another type of government should replace him.

Councilman Donna Reed took the lead in the discussion, saying the home rule charter style of government is responsible for the lack of progress with the city.

“I think it takes time for those of us who have been sitting here for a while,” Reed said. “What we have seen clearly since 1996 is the opposite of what it was supposed to do, mainly in terms of continuity in administrative positions.”

Under the “home rule” form of government, municipal affairs are governed by a local charter, rather than state laws, and the municipal government has more power to make decisions on its own. This type of government was established in the city in 1996 after being approved by the voters.

According to the City of Reading website, Home Rule Charter Government provides that “all powers not specifically granted to others by the Home Rule Charter shall be exercised by the City Council. city ​​council acts as the legislative branch of city government”.

“It’s been impractical because we’re looking at the progress that our city hasn’t made, compared to our neighboring cities,” Reed continued. “The constant changes in administrative positions have taken their toll with progress in this city, and we can all cite examples.”

Reed said she was particularly concerned that a mayor had the right to fire anyone at will without council consent.

Other members of the council, however, feared allowing a commission to propose a different form of government.

If the council agreed to go ahead with such a commission, it would have to pass an ordinance to form a government study commission, which would then have to gain voter approval in a general election.

The commission would then study the matter for 18 months and make a recommendation, which would again go to voters.

The Council would have no influence on the matter, which troubled some members.

“As far as I understand the purpose, I just want to warn you that this will not guarantee to fix what you would like to see happen,” Councilwoman Marcia Goodman-Hinnershitz said. “I think there are other ways to go. I want to be more proactive.”

Only Councilman Wesley Butler said he would support Reed’s proposal, saying full-time council members could prove beneficial to the city.

Gombar said council can make changes to the existing charter, including limiting the mayor’s power to fire employees without council consent.

Council members said they would be willing to have that discussion, and Reed agreed that it might be a good compromise.

Teresa R. Cabrera

The author Teresa R. Cabrera