Two panels have tall task regarding the city’s future

Two elected commissions have begun perhaps the most important work done in the public realm in Williamsport in half a century.

The city Charter Commission elected on Nov. 7 held its initial meeting two weeks ago. The commission has nine months to make a recommendation on the best form of government for the city of Williamsport.

That recommendation will be on the ballot for city voters to consider next November.

The city Government Study Commission, which also held its initial meeting two weeks ago, is looking into current operations in Williamsport. It is researching and seeing what residents and city employees think works well and what could be improved.

As part of its work, the commission will be looking at governments of other third class municipalities to see what works in cities comparable to Williamsport.

The commission will be exploring government operations in 22 of 71 third class cities and the borough of Carlisle.

The commission was conceived with a particular eye toward the Home Rule form of government.

The decision whether to change the form of government by which Williamsport is operated is as big a decision as citizens get to make.

As such, the priorities for both these commissions are pretty stark.

The commissions need to do their work thoroughly and objectively, putting preconceived notions aside and coming up with a recommendation that works for Williamsport’s future, not a theoretical preference.

It’s human that members of both commissions have personal preferences.

Their challenge is to put those preferences aside and furnish recommendations that have staying power.

The challenge of providing responsible government to citizens of Williamsport while balancing a budget, respecting taxpayers and providing needed services grows deeper every year.

What version of future government would best equip leaders of Williamsport to meet those challenges?

That’s the ultimate question the commissions must answer.

It is a deadly serious question but it is not a political question.

It is a civic question.

We wish both commissions productive nine-month journeys.

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