Battle lines drawn for future operation of city government

The battle lines on the future of city government have been drawn.

The Williamsport Governmental Study Commission looking at the benefits of home rule government is drafting a charter calling for a city administrator to run operations.

The city Charter Commission is writing a draft charter that similarly recommends a City Council-city manager structure.

And three-term Mayor Gabriel J. Campana believes the strong mayor form of government that he has been leading city government with should remain in place.

It will be left to the voters of the city of Williamsport to cast a verdict on these divergent paths for the city’s future in November.

We can’t emphasize enough that this literally is a once-in-a-lifetime, empowering opportunity for Williamsport’s residents.

The city has been operating under its current setup for almost five decades.

Williamsport voters literally are getting an opportunity to determine for themselves what form of government they desire for their future. This is about as pure as democracy gets.

And the choices provide clear distinctions.

The present setup provides some clear powers to the mayor, though council reserves approval of agreements and the budget and the power to override mayoral vetoes.

Home rule government would call for an administrator to make key decisions and manage much of the city’s daily operations, with council having some very specific powers, such as a supermajority vote on collective bargaining agreements. The mayor would become a type of figurehead position.

The council-manager puts a lot of weight on the hiring of a city manager to operate the city and report to council, with a non-administrative mayor either elected or appointed by council.

Williamsport voters have a generational decision sitting in front of them for the November election. They should educate themselves.

And, by all means, vote.

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