Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Home Rule May Be Updated Town Document Is Now 39 Years Old

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Home Rule May Be Updated Town Document Is Now 39 Years Old

Article excerpt

Voters in Mt. Lebanon may see proposed changes to the municipal home rule charter on the ballot in future elections, following a report on the charter to commissioners.

An ad hoc home rule charter committee has developed recommendations for updating the document, which sets various facets of local law. Bill Matthews, committee chairman, presented the report Monday.

The seven-member committee has met regularly since June 2012 to review the 39-year-old charter, looking for items that might be outdated or in need of change. Modifications are subject to ordinances passed by commissioners, followed by voter approval in a primary or general election.

The committee's recommendations focus on several general areas:

? Gender neutrality. "The charter reflects an all too common reliance on the use of male pronouns," according to the committee report.

Mr. Matthews said a gender-neutral version of the charter could be reviewed by solicitor Philip Weis and presented to commissioners for approval, with the possibility of having the question on the ballot for November.

? Public notices. The committee questions whether stipulations to advertise in newspapers remain necessary, citing a cost of about $18,000 a year to place ads in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Other methods might be suitable for some notices, including posting them on the municipal website or physically "in a conspicuous location accessible to the public in the municipal building," according to the report.

? Public notice related to the issuance of debt. The home-rule charter requires that two public notices prior to the commissioners' meeting at which the debt issue ordinance will be proposed. The committee recommends changing the requirement to one notice, which would correspond with state law.

? Official records. All ordinances and resolutions are required to be entered into permanent record books, according to the charter. …

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