Committee unveils home rule for Concord

A move to change Concord Township’s form of government is coming into the home stretch. A vote during the April 26 primary election will determine whether Concord remains a township of the second class or will operate under a home rule charter.

The Government Study Commission — which began its work in November of 2014 — unveiled its proposed home rule charter for Concord during a Jan. 28 hearing. If voters approve the charter in the April primary, the charter would become effective on Jan. 1, 2017.

Commission member Joshua Twersky said a transition team, made up of the township manager, two current supervisors, two GSC members and two members of the general public — would be established to review current ordinances and administrative code to make sure they’re in compliance with the charter, and if not, make recommendations on how to reconcile issues.

The proposal changes the five-member Board of Supervisors into a seven-member Township Council. Additionally, the terms of office would be for four years instead of six.

According to commission solicitor Michael Maddren, those changes would begin with the 2017 municipal election. Terms for two current supervisors — Dominic Pileggi and John Gillespie — would be up for election next year, and two other new members would also be elected.

Two of those four candidates would run for four-year terms, the other two would run for two-year terms. Maddren said the candidates would decide which ones would run for four years and which would run for two years.

As the terms cycle, all terms for council members would then be for four years by 2019.

Currently, supervisors may also be township employees, but that would not be the case for council members under the charter.

Council members may not be township employees, nor may they hold any other elective office during their terms on the council. Also, they are prohibited from being township employees for a full year after they leave office.

Other prohibitions include being employed by, or otherwise compensated by, any person or business serving as a contractor to the township or serving as a consultant during their term or for one year after they leave office.

Instead of a chairman and vice chairman, the council would have a president and vice president.

The proposed charter also limits increases in general fund taxes. Currently, the Second Class Township Code limits general fund taxes to no more than 14 mills. (Concord’s current millage rate is 0.944 mills.)

Under the charter, tax increases would be limited to 5 percent of the previous year’s revenue. However, an increase of more than 5 percent would be permissible by a supermajority (5-2) vote of the council.

The Township Council, as the Board of Supervisors does now, would exercise legislative power. Unlike what happens in the U.S. Congress, ordinances proposed are to be limited to one subject that is clearly expressed in the title.

Also, “No member of Council shall possess or exercise any power of Council unless such power is specifically delegated by this Charter or by a resolution adopted by the affirmative vote of at least a majority of council,” the draft reads.

In addition, no ordinance may be proposed and enacted on the same night. There must be at least a 10-day period before council may vote on a proposed ordinance.

Commission member Diane Bohr said that none of the changes are sweeping, but that they came about from listening to township residents.

The commission has until late February to finalize the draft and write a final report. During that time, residents are encouraged to contact the commission through the township website and offer suggestions.

The draft charter can be found at here.

If voters reject the charter, Concord would remain a Township of the Second Class with no changes.

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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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