New Castle News

Closer Look

July 6, 2013

John K. Manna: Just saying no to home rule in New Castle

NEW CASTLE — If it isn’t broken, don’t break it.

That’s essentially what a committee made up of New Castle city officials decided in exploring whether the city should pursue a home rule charter.

After studying the pros and cons of placing a question on the ballot for the last few months, the committee recommended against pursuing the idea.

Formation of the committee was a directive in the city’s Act 47 financial recovery plan. A major reason for doing so was that it would provide the city more flexibility with its taxes, and overcome one hurdle to exit Act 47 status.

Act 47 gives the city the ability to have a wage tax above the state limit of 1 percent on city residents. The tax now is at 2.15 percent and generates about $2.5 million in revenue.

If the city were no longer under Act 47, it would have to lower the tax to 1 percent and, therefore, lose the $2.5 million in revenue it desperately needs. However, the city could impose a tax above the state limit through a home rule charter that would have to be approved by the voters.

While city officials like that aspect of home rule, they believe the process has some drawbacks.

Once a government study commission would be approved by the voters, city officials would have no control over the process. Although the city’s intent may be to only consider taxes, the commission would have wide latitude to look at other aspects of the government.

In fact, a study commission would not be obligated to even consider lifting the ceiling on the wage tax.

But the commission would have the authority to recommend changing from the current mayor-council form of government to something else. And that’s a key concern for city officials.

One point worthy of note in the committee’s report of its study is that there is no sentiment in the community to pursue certain changes over others. Actually, there is no community sentiment to make any changes, including changing the form of government that has been in existence since 1968.

So, it appears New Castle will be under Act 47 status for some time to come. And what is wrong with that? Act 47 has provided the city with financial stability over the last five years, something that would not have occurred otherwise.


Text Only | Photo Reprints
Closer Look
  • Ferannte.tiff Upholstery shop showcases music, talent

    Following in the footsteps of his father, grandfather and great-grandfather, Jim Ferrante is working to improve his community.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Local pastor helping fire victims

    A local pastor is opening up donation avenues to help two families who lost their homes to fire this week.

    April 18, 2014

  • First Energy to replace transmission line

    FirstEnergy Corp. has plans to rebuild a power transmission line between the West Pittsburg plant and a Mahoningtown substation.

    April 18, 2014

  • school.jpg Union to return assistant principal post

    The Union Area School District will have a new administrator when the 2014-15 school year starts. The board voted 8-0 Wednesday night to hire an assistant principal. Debra Allebach was absent.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Calen.tiff Callen gets state honors

    Robert Callen has been selected to receive a state award for his contribution to local government in Pennsylvania. Callen, 58, executive director of the Lawrence County Regional Council of Governments, received the Governor’s Award for Local Government Excellence.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bobosky.jpg Gas holdouts unconvinced of safety

    When Suzanne Matteo and her husband, Martin, bought their house on four acres in Pulaski Township they had a plan. They would grow a huge vegetable garden, raise lots of flowers and a few chickens and enjoy the fresh air and quiet.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Miller.jpg Wilmington superintendent discusses common core

    The Wilmington district has no reason to fear new Pennsylvania Core standards, superintendent Dr. Michelle Miller said. She talked about the standards to approximately two dozen residents at the school board’s monthly pre-meeting Monday.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Shreck.tiff Schreck reappointed Shenango superintendent

    Dr. Michael Schreck has been reappointed as Shenango’s superintendent for a five-year term. The school board approved his reappointment by an 8-0 vote Monday. Nicholas Manolis was absent.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • vote.jpg Congressional candidate disqualified

    Commonwealth Court has removed a Democratic candidate for the 3rd Congressional District seat from the May 20 primary ballot. Judge Bernard L. McGinley has invalidated the nomination petitions of Mel A. Marin of Sharon.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • money.jpg Up through the ground comes education cash

    Democrats running for governor seem to be competing to convince voters they will dip deepest into the pockets of gas drillers to replace $1 billion that Gov. Tom Corbett has cut from education spending.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Seasonal Content
Section Teases
Must Read
Continuous Super Bowl Coverage