City home rule presents final draft charter

City voters will get the chance to vote on a home rule charter on Nov. 6.

The Williamsport Study Commission Monday gave out copies of a draft charter at a public hearing and meeting at City Hall.

The draft calls for a city manager appointed by City Council after nomination by the mayor. The mayor is to be elected among the voters.

“We’ve given the mayor responsibilities that include economic development,” said Jennifer Ayers, commission chairwoman.

Seven on council including the mayor are to be elected at large for four-year terms, staggered every two years.

Council members are part time, and there’s no health or retirement benefits for part-time employees or elected officials.

Engaging and involving the public in council meetings is an important part of the draft charter.

“We’re not zealots championing for a specific cause,” said Matilda Noviello, of the commission.

The preamble of the draft charter indicates the citizens deserve and require a government that is honest, efficient, accountable and transparent.

“This is not an attack on the current mayor,” Ayers said. The draft charter encourages local government cooperation, builds procedures to ensure a government that is responsive to citizens, and reflects the unique circumstances of the city’s economy, geography, heritage and promising future.

The draft should be finalized by next week.

Citizens also have the choice to vote for a council-manager form of government by the Charter Commission. That form follows stricter guidelines established by optional third-class city law.

If both of the charters are approved by voters, despite which one gets more votes, the issue may be decided by a judge in the county court system, Ayers said.