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NEW CASTLE Commission struggles with decisions on plan



Published: Wed, July 10, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Members plan to decide on a new form of government at next week's meeting.

By LAURE CIOFFI

VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU

NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- A majority of the group studying the structure of Lawrence County's government believes there should be a change.

The nine-member, nonpartisan study commission voted 7-2 to continue working. Members expect to meet again next week to decide what form they will recommend to voters.

If the commission chooses a county council with either an elected county executive or an appointed county manager, the voters will consider it this November by referendum. If the commission decides to write a home rule charter, it will be given nine months to work.

Gary Clark and Amy Lamb were the only members who voted against changing the current form of county government.

Clark said he believes any form of government is most dependent on those elected to serve under it and not the structure.

Lamb said she also favors keeping the current form.

"If you don't like the way things are handled, just vote out your commissioners right now," she said.

Another struggle

The other government study commission members appear to be struggling with is home rule vs. the county council options.

Gale Measel and D. John Razzano said they could go with either option.

But board members Thomas Shumaker, Wendell Wagner, Beth Verterano and Janet Verone said they would prefer either of the county council forms of government.

Helen Jackson said she believes there should be a change but is unsure which form she supports.

Commission members intend to hash out their differences and come to a consensus at 4:15 p.m. Tuesday in the county commissioner's meeting room, Shumaker said. They will also receive an update from the accounting firm they hired to compare the current cost of county government to the cost of the proposed forms.

The commission is also trying to clarify when its final report on any change must be complete.

Michael Foreman, a state consultant advising the group, said state law requires the commission to produce a final report within nine months of their election to office, which is Aug. 6, if a county council government is chosen.

But the commission may have an extra two months to work on its report if it decides to form districts by which a council would be elected, he said.

The county elections director also informed the group that it must have a ballot question ready by Sept. 6 if it is to appear on the general election ballot in November.




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