Early indications show city’s interest in government change

With minor league baseball’s Williamsport Crosscutters season opener at a refurbished Bowman Field for competition, a Williamsport City Council-sponsored meeting on plans to consider a change in the city’s form of government drew 30 people last week.

That may not seem like a lot, but in this era, 30 people at a public meeting counts for pretty strong attendance. It’s an indication to us of at least some moderate interest in changing the city’s form of government.

Described as an “exercise in democracy,” the meeting featured Ed Fosnaught, of the Governor’s Center for Goverment Studies, who patiently outlined the lengthy process involved in the decision whether to change the city’s form of government.

“Self-study is healthy,” he said of the city’s embarking on the lengthy path of at least considering a change in its form of government.

At another meeting last week, council voted to approve a question on the November ballot asking voters whether they want to elect a charter commission to spend nine months looking at forms of government available to third-class cities.

That was the most significant step so far in what will be a very long process.

And it will be a very open process, if early introductions by council to the possible change are any indication.

And that’s as it should be.

There has been a push in some quarters for a home rule form of government to be considered in addition to strong-mayor, council-manager, commission, or weak-mayor government structure.

Council did not receive any indication, prior to its recent announcement, that the home rule format has support and we have real concerns whether there is enough structure attached to that form of government.

If there is a viable, objective, dedicated charter commission, our belief is that the most practical form of government for the city in the future will emerge through study.

And we are certain of this much:

The time is right for city residents to at least consider this change in the name of efficient government that matches Williamsport’s needs for the future.