Home Rule Draft Charter Recommends Changes in Carlisle Government Structure

From the Borough:
The Government Study Commission has scheduled a public hearing for Monday, June 2nd at 7:00 p.m. in Borough Hall. The purpose of this hearing is to allow citizens an opportunity to comment on an initial draft of the Home Rule charter.

The initial draft charter is the result of over nine months of individual and group research, committee and commission meetings and public hearings. It is the commission’s first attempt to provide the citizens of Carlisle a summary of the commission’s work thus far and its initial approach to a draft home rule charter. The commission seeks public comments on the content of the initial draft, to include identifying additional issues which citizens believe should be included in the charter, as well as issues in the draft charter they may believe are not needed or appropriate for a home rule charter.

 

For over a year the Home Rule Charter Committee has been researching and evaluating Carlisle’s government structure and what recommendations might be made to improve it.  Currently, Carlisle follows a traditional structure that requires certain positions to be publicly elected.  Home Rule was evaluated in the 1990’s but was not adopted at the time.  Much of the interest in the recent Home Rule initiative stemmed from Carlisle’s issue with a previous tax collector caught selling drugs.  Because of the government structure Carlisle follows, it is required that a tax collector position is available and it is publicly elected.  For many years Carlisle had no one run for that office so the borough office took on the role of tax collector so it seemed that the position might not need to be filled.

The Home Rule Charter Committee has released their recommendations for changes to Carlisle Government.  They have provided a handy 3 document guide including a concise summary of the major changes and then detailed documents.

Summary-of-Key-Changes-in-Draft-Charter-6-2-14
Draft-Home-Rule-Charter-6-2-14
Detailed-Draft-Charter-Summary-6-2-14

SUMMARY OF KEY ITEMS IN PROPOSED CHARTER FOR CARLISLE

The Government Study Commission, after considerable research and deliberation, has concluded that the
best interests of the Carlisle Borough residents can be achieved through a local
government framed in accordance with a Home Rule Charter that includes the following major changes from our current Borough Code:
1. Abolishes the office of elected tax collector and directs council to determine best method of collecting taxes from a list of available options.
2. Maintains same power of taxation and tax rates as the current Borough Code.
3. Establishes seven member council, elected at large,with Mayor presiding.
4. Enacts term limits for the offices of mayor and council members.
5. All department heads, including the Chief of Police, to report to the Borough Manager.
6. Directs the council to enact an administrative code with specific guidance on personnel code,
contracting and procurement and a code of ethics.
7. Enables increased citizen participation by establishing procedures for initiative and referendum.
A detailed description of how these items are enacted may be obtained by reviewing the full version of the proposed Carlisle Home Rule Charter

A few of these changes are significant so here is more information pulled from the detailed report.

3. Establishes seven member council, elected at large,with Mayor presiding.
5. All department heads, including the Chief of Police, to report to the Borough Manager.

Currently, Carlisle Borough Council has 7 elected positions and the Mayor is the 8th elected position. The Mayor does not vote unless to break a tie vote if there is an instance where one member of council isn’t present or can’t vote and the council splits on a decision.  The Mayor’s main focus is on public safety and the police chief reports to the Mayor.  The recommended change reduces council to a 6 person panel with the Mayor being the 7th instead of having a Council President.

4. Enacts term limits for the offices of mayor and council members.

Currently there aren’t term limits related to borough council or mayor. The terms are that positions are elected every 4 years but candidates can run indefinitely.  Prior to our current mayor, we had the same mayor for almost 30 years.  The proposed rule would be:
Prohibits a Council Member or Mayor from serving more than two consecutive full terms and requiring that a Mayor who has served two consecutive terms shall not be elected to the office of Mayor again for four (4) years following the second consecutive full term and that a Council Member, other than the Mayor, who has served two consecutive terms shall not be elected to the office of Council Member again for two (2) years following the second consecutive full term.

5. All department heads, including the Chief of Police, to report to the Borough Manager.
This change puts all appointed officials under the Borough Manager (also an appointed position).

7. Enables increased citizen participation by establishing procedures for initiative and referendum.
A detailed description of how these items are enacted may be obtained by reviewing the full version of the proposed Carlisle Home Rule Charter

Currently there is not an organized structure to allow residents to push for changes to ordinances or to enact new laws. The proposed change is lengthy and provides many details but the main focus is:
All initiative and referendum petitions shall be signed by a number of electors equal to at least fifteen per cent (15%) of the electors voting in the last gubernatorial election within the
borough, and must be filed within 90 days of the date on which the affidavit was filed.

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