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LAWRENCE COUNTY Officials, public discuss altering government



Published: Wed, September 4, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



One elected official wonders how his office duties will continue under the new form of government.

By LAURE CIOFFI

VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU

NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- The election is not till November, and Lawrence County officials and the public are already debating the merits of changing government.

A government study commission is recommending to voters that county government be changed from three full-time commissioners elected at-large to a part-time seven-member council elected by district. The proposal would also replace all other elected officials, except the controller and district attorney, with appointed department heads.

Oren Allen of Shenango Township, a frequent visitor to commissioners' meetings, questioned commissioners Tuesday about the savings that the study group contends will occur with the change.

Savings potential

A report released by the study group estimates that about $300,000 will be saved when salaries of elected officials are eliminated.

But Allen pointed out that those savings are only estimates. According to the study commission's report, a transitional team appointed by commissioners will set up the new government and salaries if the referendum passes.

A. Wayne Yoho, a county jury commissioner, said his position has been eliminated in the study group's recommendation, but there is no explanation about how his office's duties will continue.

"It takes a good 50 to 60 hours a week to run our office," Yoho added.

Commissioner Roger DeCarbo said he thinks the proposed form of government offers less citizen participation because it eliminates the election of several county officials, who will be appointed by the council, which will also appoint the county manager.

Against suggestion

Commissioner Brian Burick added that he doesn't favor offices elected by district.

"When people are elected by district they tend to favor their district over the good of the whole," Burick said, referring to elected officials in state and federal office.

Amy Lamb, a study commission member, reminded commissioners that state law prohibits them from using the county newsletter to criticize the study commission's recommendation.




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