MERCER COUNTY Signers uninformed, consolidation panel says

FARRELL, Pa. -- Members of the committee looking at a consolidation of five Shenango Valley municipalities said the 700 Hermitage residents who signed a petition opposing the study did so without having any facts.
The petition was presented to the Hermitage commissioners Wednesday, urging them to drop out of the study immediately and saying that the signers oppose any merger or consolidation with any other communities.
The study is looking at Hermitage, Farrell, Sharon, Sharpsville and Wheatland. The study committee is working on a model of the consolidation of those five into a single municipality.
However, no recommendations have been finalized and none has been presented to the public, committee members said during a meeting Thursday in Farrell City Hall.
There are plans to hold large public meetings in each of the five communities when the model is finished, said George Gerhart, a Sharon representative on the study committee.
What happened
Committee members feel those who signed the Hermitage petition are making a decision before they know whether a merger or consolidation would benefit their community, Gerhart said.
Mayor William Morocco of Farrell, another committee member, agreed, suggesting the signers tried to answer a question that isn't fully formed.
There was some discussion about securing public input as the study progresses but all of the meetings are already open and they are held in a different municipality each month to encourage public participation, Morocco said.
There was a suggestion to hold some public input meetings now, but Morocco said that would be premature. The study committee should come up with a recommendation and present that to the public for comment as planned. The recommendation could always be changed, he said.

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