A total of 1,275 signatures are needed to get a referendum about studying government change on the November ballot.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Should Lawrence County look at different forms of government?
Voters could answer that question this fall if the Lawrence County League of Women Voters collect enough signatures for a ballot referendum.
Petitions to get the issue on the ballot will be circulated from Wednesday through Aug. 7.
"What we would like to stress is this doesn't mean government will change. It only means changes will be considered and the whole form of government can be studied, which is never a bad thing," said Janet Verone, a League member.
To get the question on the ballot, they must get signatures from 5 percent of the people who voted in the last gubernatorial election, or 1,275 people.
Voters will then decide if a study commission should be formed to look at the current form of government and several alternatives over a nine-month period.
Any recommended changes would go back to voters for approval in the next general election.
Alternatives: Six other Pennsylvania counties -- Allegheny, Delaware, Erie, Lackawanna, Lehigh and Northampton -- have convened study commissions and chosen alternative forms of government.
Thomas Shumaker, a local attorney and former county commissioner, brought the subject up last summer when he unsuccessfully lobbied Lawrence County commissioners to pass an ordinance putting the study commission question on the November 2000 ballot.
He later approached the League of Women Voters to assist him in gathering enough signatures to get the referendum on the November 2001 ballot.
Shumaker, whose son is a member of the newly created Allegheny County Council, said a study commission would be looking for the most economical and efficient form of government.
"This movement is not meant in any way to be critical of the present or past individuals who have served this county as commissioners. It deals with the form of government," Shumaker said.
Verone said League members are planning an information meeting on study commissions and the different forms of government with Shumaker and his son Sept. 18. The time and place for the meeting are not yet confirmed.