Charter brings final report to council outlining new form of city government

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Williamsport Councilmen Randy Allison, left, and Joel Henderson make final preparations before the city's weekly council meeting Thursday night.

Mayor Gabriel J. Campana sat quietly as City Council Thursday listened to a presentation about what could become a council-manager form of government if voters choose it Nov. 6.

The seven elected members of the Williamsport Charter Commission produced a final report that wants voters to consider the benefits of a strategic planning manager who works with the direction of City Council.

Fred Holland, an attorney and commission chairman, gave the overview and handed out the document, which is only 10 pages long.

Under the charter using optional third-class city law, the mayor belongs to council, but has ceremonial powers.

Campana has come to heads this past week with a member of council, threatening to sue her in the hallway after a finance committee meeting.

Holland said the commission started its work in December.

It received public feedback and comments from anonymous-takers of a public survey.

It interviewed officials in Lock Haven, Sharon and Easton.

Council President Jonathan Williamson said when council approved the ordinance to get the question on last November’s ballot whether people wanted a seven-member commission to study the city charter and make a recommendation in nine months, it wanted to separate council from the process.

Councilman Randall J. Allison said he deeply appreciated the time and effort and hours the commission took to study the issue.

“This unfolded with the most positive expectation,” Allison said.

“It will be in the voters hands where it belongs,” he said.

A joint town hall meeting with the now-disbanded charter commissioners and the Williamsport Study Commission, which is looking at the benefits of state Home Rule law is being planned, according to Holland.

Campana previously said the manager would end up costing more than his salary of $72,000.

He also said it would disrupt the checks and balances system in place since 1972 and create a situation where a manager answers to the council and is a “rubber stamp.”